Sergeant Michael B. Webb
Public Affairs Branch (502) 782-1780
Kentucky State Police Provide Safe Driving Tips For Safe Holiday Travel
Date of News Release: 12/18/2006
,(FRANKFORT, Ky.) - The Kentucky State Police (KSP) advise motorists travelling during the upcoming Christmas holiday weekend to expect increased traffic on the state's roadways. They can also expect the increased presence of state troopers and their local law enforcement partners beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 22 and continuing through 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 25.
"In addition to thousands of residents making in-state trips, there will be large numbers of out-of-state visitors and motorists travelling through the state," notes KSP Commissioner Jack Adams. "This situation will bring crowded conditions that could potentially have a dangerous impact on highway travel."
During last year's three-day Christmas holiday period, there were 922 motor vehicle crashes in Kentucky resulting in eight deaths and 377 injuries. Ninety-five of those crashes involved alcohol-impaired drivers.
"The real tragedy of these statistics is that they are preventable," says Adams. "Road safety is no accident. As responsible citizens, we have a duty to act in a manner that protects our fellow citizens as well as visitors traveling through the state. No one wants the holidays to be a time of family tragedy and suffering."
According to KSP Lt. Phil Crumpton following proven safety procedures and behaviors can greatly increase the chances of avoiding or surviving a vehicle crash. "Speed, visibility, inattention, not using seat belts, impaired driving and bad judgement are some of the major factors contributing to fatalities and injuries resulting from vehicle crashes," he says. "However, there are specific actions drivers can take to reduce their risk."
The Kentucky State Police recommends the following safe driving practices:
- Wear a seat belt and make sure all passengers do as well, including children. It's your best defense in a vehicle crash. Infants should be secured in a child safety restraint seat that meets federal standards. As of Dec. 17th, 872 people have lost their lives on Kentucky highways during 2006. Four-hundred-and-sixty-eight of those fatalities were not wearing seat belts.
During a crash, violent forces of deceleration are created. Seat belts distribute these forces over larger and stronger parts of the body such as the chest, hips and shoulders. The seat belt also stretches slightly to slow the body down and increase its stopping distance. The difference in stopping distances for a belted person and an unbelted person is significant. It's often the distance between life and death.
- Slow down and obey speed limits. The higher the speed of the vehicle, the less time the driver has to stop and avoid a crash. Excessive speed also contributes to severity of impact when a collision does occur.
- Don't drive after using alcohol or drugs. Kentucky has a zero tolerance policy regarding driving while impaired by alcohol. Operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .08 will result in an immediate arrest even for first time offenders. There are no warnings. According to the National Safety Council, someone dies in an alcohol-related crash every 30 minutes. It's a factor in six percent of all vehicle crashes and more than 40 percent of all fatal crashes.
- Wear a protective helmet when operating a motorcycle. According to the World Health Organization, not wearing a helmet makes the odds of suffering a head injury three times more likely.
- Don't follow a vehicle too closely. Keep a safe following distance. Allow yourself room to maneuver or brake by keeping a safety cushion on all sides of the vehicle.
- Turn on your lights. This makes it easier for other drivers to see you. Being seen is just as important as seeing.
- When stopped at a traffic light, take one more look before proceeding when the light turns green. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, red light running is on the rise nationwide. Many drivers consider a yellow light as a last chance to get through an intersection rather than a caution signal.
- Take extra care when driving at night. Traffic deaths are three times greater at night than during the day. Ninety percent of a driver's reaction depends on vision and vision is severely limited at night. Reduce your speed and increase your following distances.
- Drive defensively. Steer clear of trouble ---expect bad decisions by other drivers. Never assume that other drivers will make the right decision. Be ready to react. Always expect the worst-case scenario and have a plan or escape route in mind.
Watch out for other drivers who weave, straddle the center line, make wide turns, stop suddenly or respond slowly to traffic signals. They may be impaired by drugs or alcohol. Notify police immediately if you see a motorist driving suspiciously. (You can contact the Kentucky State Police toll free at 1-800-222-5555 (in the state of Kentucky only, does not work out of state).)
- Use good judgement-just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Every day thousands of drivers do things on the road simply because they can, even though they shouldn't. More than 90 percent of crashes are caused by driver error. The most common traffic violations include exceeding the speed limit, rolling through stop signs, failing to use signals, running red lights, making illegal U-turns, passing on the right, failing to yield to pedestrians and driving while impaired by alcohol.
- Get plenty of rest before a long trip. Fatigue can be a killer. Don't start a long trip late in the day. Don't drive alone. Adjust temperature controls to keep yourself awake and alert. Watch your posture. Drive with your head up and shoulders back. Take frequent breaks, at least every two hours.
- Anticipate. Look far down the road. Learn to spot problems and avoid them before they happen. Roadway clues can often help to avoid a crash. Keep your windows, mirrors and lights clean and free from snow, ice, dew and frost. Check your mirrors frequently. Watch for brake, reverse and hazard lights. Be aware of emergency vehicle flashing lights and listen for sirens. All of these can indicate trouble ahead.
- Stay alert and focused-no one is crash-proof. Drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes each year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths. Aggressive driving is a factor in approximately 66 percent of all traffic fatalities. Distracted driving accounts for 25 to 30 percent of all crashes. Be attentive to the task at hand-driving. Staying alert and focused can help you avoid a crash.
"Safe driving requires good decision-making and good risk management," says Crumpton. "Driving is serious business, not a game. Crashes are life-changing events that often have long-term or permanent consequences. And they don't always happen to the other guy. It could be you."
"Don't let the joys of the holiday be ruined by a fatality, a vehicle crash or an impaired driving arrest," says Adams. "Adjust your driving to stress safety. Give a gift of life to yourself, your family and others during this special time of the year."