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

KSP Safe Driving Tips Provide "Gift Of Life" For Christmas Holiday Travel

Date of News Release: 12/14/2007

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) - Whether driving across town or across the state, the Kentucky State Police are advising motorists to exercise added caution and flexibility on the highway during the Christmas holiday season.

"Holiday travel should always be taken seriously," advises Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer. "Don't let the joys of the season be ruined by an injury or fatality in a vehicle crash or an impaired driving arrest. Give the gift of life to yourself, your family and others during this special time of the season."

In 2006, more than 50 million motorists throughout the country made trips of more than 50 miles during the Christmas-New Year's holiday. Despite higher costs for gasoline this year, KSP expects highway travel through and within the state to match or exceed last year's level resulting in crowded conditions that could potentially create hazardous conditions. Nine people lost their lives in nine crashes on Kentucky roadways during last year's three-day Christmas holiday. Eight of the fatalities were not wearing seat belts and two were the result of alcohol-related crashes.

In order to save lives, the Kentucky State Police will be boosting its road patrols and operating safety checkpoints statewide beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 21 and ending at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 25. For maximum effectiveness, troopers will coordinate enforcement activities with local police and sheriff's offices to target high-risk areas and use radar and laser equipment as well as passive alcohol sensors to assist their efforts.

KSP will also be participating in Operation CARE (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) from Dec. 21 through Dec. 23, a nationwide program designed to reduce fatalities on interstate highways and parkways by concentrating on speeding, impaired driving and failure to use seat belts.

"These three factors significantly affect highway fatality rates," says Brewer. "Troopers will be aggressively enforcing the law to save lives. Those who endanger themselves and others should know they will face serious consequences."

According to Capt. Tim Lucas, commander of the KSP Highway Safety Branch, Kentucky has recorded 814 highway fatalities through Dec. 13 of this year. Three-hundred-and-seventy deaths were motor vehicle occupants who were not wearing seat belts. Alcohol-related crashes have caused 193 deaths during the same time period.

"Safe driving requires good decision-making and good risk management," says Lucas. "It is serious business. Crashes are life-changing events that often have permanent consequences. And they don't always happen to the other guy. It could be you."

To boost your chances of surviving holiday road travel, KSP offers the following tips:

  • Don't drive impaired by drugs or alcohol. Kentucky's zero tolerance policy means operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .08 will result in an immediate arrest even for first time offenders. Motorists can also be arrested for lower levels if they are under 21 years of age or operating a commercial vehicle.
  • Buckle up. Kentucky law makes the driver responsible for assuring that all occupants in their vehicle are properly restrained. No warnings will be issued to drivers found not wearing a safety belt. They will receive a citation.
  • Use approved child restraints. According to Kentucky law, all children 40 inches in height or less, must be buckled into a child safety restraint seat that meets federal standards. Children over 40 inches tall must wear a seat belt. Motorists should 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.
  • 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.
  • Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation and fatigue can cause lapses in attention, slowed awareness and impaired judgement.
  • Don't tailgate. Follow other vehicles at a safe distance.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Remember that 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 contribute to highway safety during the holiday period by reporting erratic, impaired or speeding 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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