Sergeant Michael B. Webb
Kentucky State Police
Public Affairs Branch
Office (502) 782-1780
Memorial Day Traffic Enforcement
Date of News Release: 05/22/2007
(FRANKFORT, Ky.) - The Kentucky State Police report that aggressive driving, failure to use seat belts and driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol are the top three dangers faced by motorists on Kentucky highways during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. Accordingly, the law enforcement agency plans to intensify its traffic safety and patrol efforts beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 25 through 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 28.
"The Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the beginning of the summer driving season," says Kentucky State Police Commissioner Jack Adams. "Traffic on the state's roadways is expected to increase significantly during this time period."
"Last year, there were 851 crashes in Kentucky during the Memorial Day weekend," notes Adams. "Sixteen people lost their lives and 324 were injured. Many of these fatalities and injuries might have been avoided if the drivers had slowed down, buckled up and avoided the use of drugs and alcohol."
"As of May 20, a total of 310 people have lost their lives on Kentucky's roadways in 2007," says KSP Capt. Tim Lucas, commander of the Governor's Highway Safety Program. "Of the 264 motor vehicle fatalities, 156 were not wearing seat belts and 78 were the result of crashes involving the suspected use of alcohol."
Lucas points out that, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), using a seat belt is the single most effective action you can take to protect yourself in a vehicle crash. Seat belt use reduces the risk of sustaining a fatal injury by 45 percent in a car and 60 percent in a light truck. It also reports that 60 percent of passengers killed in traffic crashes are not wearing seat belts.
Lucas also reminds motorists that Kentucky has a zero tolerance policy regarding driving while impaired by alcohol. "Although driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 is illegal, you can also be arrested for lower levels if you are under 21 years of age or operating a commercial vehicle," he explains. "If you are going to drive, it's best not to consume any alcohol at all."
"Even first time violators face immediate arrest, which can result in court costs, legal fees, higher auto insurance rates, fines, loss of license and even imprisonment," he adds.
As part of the "Buckle Up Kentucky. It's The Law and It's Enforced" campaign, which started May 21 and continues through June 3, and Operation C.A.R.E (Combined Accident Reduction Effort), state troopers will be working overtime during the Memorial Day holiday. KSP will also be participating in All American Buckle Up Week, which runs from May 21 through May 28. Operations will include increased saturation patrols and traffic safety checkpoints in high crash, high traffic locations, radar and laser details and coordinated enforcement activities with local police and sheriff's departments for maximum coverage.
"These various campaigns and programs help give KSP added resources to boost our enforcement efforts and save lives," explains Adams.
KSP reminds motorists that Kentucky law requires them to slow down and use caution when they see a law enforcement or emergency vehicle stopped alongside the road with its lights flashing. They must move over to the lane farthest away from the vehicle if they are on a four-lane road with two lanes proceeding in the same direction and can do so safely.
Motorists should also be aware that the back seat is the safest place for children to sit, especially in vehicles equipped with passenger-side air bags. Infants and toddlers should never ride in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger-side air bag. Parents should always be sure that their child's safety seat has been properly installed in the vehicle according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Kentucky law requires all children 40 inches in height or less to be buckled into a child safety restraint seat that meets federal standards. Children over 40 inches tall must wear a seat belt. Violation of this law will result in a $50.00 fine with an additional $10.00 fine donated to the Traumatic Brain Injury Trust Fund
According to NHTSA, properly installed child safety seats reduce the risk of death by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers in passenger cars.
Kentucky law makes the driver responsible for assuring that all occupants of the vehicle are properly restrained. Violation of this law will result in a fine not to exceed $25.00.
Other tips recommended by KSP for safe road travel include:
- Obey speed limits. 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.
- Slow down in roadway construction zones. Watch for lane closures and merge well before the actual closure. Look for orange warning signs, follow posted speed limits, leave adequate space between vehicles, watch for workers and sudden stops and be prepared for changing road surfaces and traffic patterns.
- Don't tailgate. Follow other vehicles at a safe distance. If you find yourself being tailgated, don't hit the brakes. Slow down gradually and let the other vehicle pass you.
- Avoid aggressive driving behaviors such as passing on the shoulder of the road, changing lanes without signaling, violating traffic signals and weaving in and out of traffic.
- Expect the unexpected. Watch traffic around you and be prepared to react. Scan the road ahead for potential hazards.
- Watch for road debris such as tire treads, garbage, lumber, gravel, tree limbs, mufflers and exhaust parts.
- Take extra care on rural roads with 55 mile per hour speed limits.
- Avoid or minimize in-car distractions such as cell phone use, changing tapes or CDs, eating or other activities that can remove your attention from the road.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation and fatigue can cause lapses in attention, slowed awareness and impaired judgement.
- Take frequent breaks to keep alert during long distance trips.
- Be extra cautious around large trucks. They have large "blind spots" and much longer stopping distances than passenger cars.
"Please do your part to be safe," says Adams. "Remember, three out of four crashes happen within 25 miles of home at speeds of 45 miles per hour or less. About 40 percent of all fatal crashes occur on roads where the speed limit is 30 miles per hour or less."
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.