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Sergeant Michael B. Webb
Public Affairs Branch (502) 782-1780

July 4th is One of Deadliest Holidays on Roads and Highways

Date of News Release: 06/26/2006

(FRANKFORT) - Kentucky State Police officials advise motorists traveling on Kentucky's roadways to use extreme caution during the upcoming July 4 weekend. Increased traffic is expected throughout the holiday period, which begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 29, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, July 4.

As part of Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) and the "Blue Lights Across the Bluegrass" campaign, KSP will be enhancing its enforcement activities with an increased presence in high-crash locations throughout the state. Extra patrols are planned around recreational areas, lakes and boat ramps. For maximum coverage, state troopers will also partner with local police and sheriff's departments in conducting strategically located traffic safety checkpoints.

Last year nine people lost their lives during the July 4 weekend. Of the nine fatalities, alcohol was a suspected factor in five of the crashes. Three of the four motor vehicle victims were not wearing seat belts and three of the four motorcycle victims were not wearing helmets.

Brig. Gen. Norman Arflack, Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, said last year's statistics should serve as a warning to motorists and their passengers.

"Using seat belts and helmets saves lives," said Arflack. "With the Fourth of July falling on a Tuesday this year, the holiday weekend will cover an even longer period of time. Motorists need to continue to use caution throughout these days. I would also like to remind motorists that Kentucky has a zero tolerance policy regarding driving while impaired. Even first-time offenders face immediate arrest."

KSP Lt. Col. Dean Hayes, Operations Division director, said that impaired driving tends to increase during holiday periods, creating a more dangerous driving environment.

"Impaired drivers are more likely to exceed the speed limit and less likely to wear seat belts, so the resulting crashes and injuries are often more severe and damaging," said Hayes. "Driving after drinking is a choice. Make the right choice and the safe choice - find alternate transportation, use a designated driver or don't consume any amount of alcohol if you intend or need to drive."

Hayes offers these driving tips for safe holiday travel:

  • Buckle your seat belt and make sure your passengers do also. It's the best defense in a traffic crash. According to Kentucky law, children 40 inches in height or less must be buckled into a child safety restraint that meets federal standards. Children over 40 inches tall must wear a seat belt.
  • Slow down. Excessive speed reduces your ability to avoid a crash, extends your vehicle's stopping distance and increases the severity of a crash when it occurs.
  • Avoid aggressive driving behaviors such as tailgating, passing on the shoulder of the road, changing lanes without signaling, violating traffic signals and weaving in and out of traffic.
  • Be extra-attentive in construction zones. Look for the orange warning signs, follow posted speed limits, leave adequate space between vehicles, obey road crew flaggers, watch for workers and sudden stops and be prepared for changing road surfaces and traffic patterns.
  • Watch for road debris, such as tire treads, garbage, lumber, gravel, tree limbs, muffflers and exhaust parts.
  • Avoid fatigue by taking frequent breaks, particularly on long-distance trips.

"Please do your part to keep safe during the July 4 holiday weekend," Arflack urged motorists. "Pay attention to these basic safe-driving recommendations, drive defensively, and do not drive impaired."

Citizens can further contribute to highway safety during the holiday period by reporting erratic drivers to the KSP toll-free hotline at 1-800-222-5555 (in the state of Kentucky only, does not work out of state). Callers will remain anonymous and should give a description of the vehicle, location, direction of travel and license number if possible.

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