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Sergeant Michael B. Webb
Kentucky State Police
Public Affairs Branch
Office (502) 782-1780

Impaired Drivers Make July 4th Holiday Period One Of Deadliest On Roadways

Date of News Release: 06/28/2007

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) -Despite high gasoline prices at the pump, the Kentucky State Police expects heavy traffic throughout the commonwealth during the upcoming July 4 holiday period. With the Fourth of July falling on a Wednesday, many travelers will extend their vacation plans to include the weekend before or after the celebrated holiday. KSP will have increased patrols during this time frame and motorists are urged to use extreme caution while traveling.

"Throughout the country, the July 4th holiday period has become one of the most dangerous times for highway travel," says Kentucky State Police Commissioner Jack Adams. "Last year, there were 1,160 crashes on Kentucky roadways during this four-day time period. These collisions resulted in 16 fatalities and 494 people injured. Many of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented if motorists practiced basic defensive driving skills such as obeying speed limits, using seat belts and not driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol."

Impaired driving tends to increase during holiday periods, notes Lt. Col. Dean Hayes, director of the KSP Operations Division. "Unfortunately, too many people don't understand that alcohol, drugs and driving just don't mix," he says. "Impaired driving is no accident, nor is it a victimless crime."

State Troopers will be aggressively enforcing Kentucky's zero tolerance policy regarding impaired driving during the July 4th holiday period says Capt. Tim Lucas, commander of the KSP Highway Safety Branch. As part of Operation C.A.R.E (Combined Accident Reduction Effort), troopers will be working overtime to provide 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.

"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," Lucas 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. "The consequences are serious and real."

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.

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.

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.
  • Slow down in roadway construction zones.
  • Don't tailgate.
  • Avoid aggressive driving behaviors.
  • Expect the unexpected and be prepared to react.
  • Watch for objects in the road road 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, etc..
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Take frequent breaks to keep alert during long distance trips.
  • Be extra cautious around large trucks.
  • "Crashes can happen anywhere," says Lucas. "Three out of four 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."

    "I urge all Kentuckians to observe the speed limit, wear seat belts and refrain from driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol," says Commissioner Adams. "These are very easy things to do and they may mean the difference between life and death."

    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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