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Kentucky’s Zero Fatalities Goal: A Positive Trend In Highway Accidents Continues Into 2018

May 17 2019 | Blog
  • Read our blog to learn what insights can be gained from the recent preliminary report on Kentucky highway fatalities in 2018.

    When it comes to car crash deaths, any number higher than zero is unacceptable for the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS), according to the Office’s spokeswoman, Erin Egger. However, a recently-released, preliminary report on highway fatalities shows that almost two people each day lost their lives on Kentucky roads in 2018. In this article, we analyze why this grim statistic can actually have a silver lining and what all drivers in Kentucky can do to make our roads safer for everyone.

    Kentucky Highway Fatalities Report in a Nutshell

    The preliminary report on highway fatalities in 2018 was released at the beginning of February this year. Even though KOHS is still gathering data from local agencies, the additional information isn’t expected to substantially change the results of the preliminary report. The total number of motor vehicle accident deaths in 2018 was estimated at 722. Out of these, 87 fatalities involved motorcycle accidents; and 69 deaths were attributed to collisions with commercial vehicles.

    While the report data show that the number of deaths on Kentucky roads is still relatively high, the trend it represents can give both the state authorities and motorists in Kentucky cause for cautious optimism. This is because the preliminary numbers suggest that traffic fatalities have been on a decline for two consecutive years – down from 782 in 2017 and 834 in 2016. This positive change can be attributed to at least two factors – increased seat belt use and fewer instances of drunk driving.

    Kentucky Drivers Are Deciding to Click It

    Seat belt use is a substantial factor when it comes to accident mortality rates. In 2018, more than 52% of all people killed in Kentucky crashes were not wearing a seat belt. Erin Egger, a spokeswoman for the Office quoted above, also noted: “We did see a much larger amount of people buckling up, so we don’t think it’s any coincidence”. The increase in seat belt use across Kentucky may well be attributed to last years’ Click It or Ticket campaign that was launched in May in cooperation with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    The campaign highlighted the dangers of driving without a seat belt through TV commercials and Internet ads. In addition, Louisville Metro Police and the Kentucky State Police stepped up their enforcement efforts from May 23 through June 5 – the period surrounding Memorial Day which is typically associated with a sharp spike in motor vehicle accidents. The forces performed police stops more frequently and issued tickets for driving without a seat belt. In Kentucky, as in all states except New Hampshire, seat belt use is mandatory and drivers can be cited for non-compliance.

    Possible Change in Drinking and Driving Attitudes

    The second factor that may have contributed to the overall decrease in 2018 fatality rates seems to be fewer instances of drunk driving. According to the report, alcohol use was a factor in 86 highway deaths – an impressive decline of almost 40% from 137 alcohol-related fatalities in 2017. However, Erin Egger advised taking this data with a grain a salt as, in this particular instance, the final report that will be released on April 1 may mention a different number. This is due to the fact that findings from some autopsies may not have reached the KOHS yet.

    Practical Safety Reminders

    As mentioned at the beginning of the article, a commitment to safety is a shared duty all motorists in Kentucky owe to one another. Applying the following safety reminders may help Kentucky residents to achieve the zero fatalities goal set by the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety:

    • Be mindful of the speed limit and obey it
    • Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you
    • Avoid distracted driving – never use a handheld mobile device while driving
    • Buckle up
    • Adapt your driving to weather conditions
    • Never drink and drive

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