Kentucky highway fatalities dropped to a 64-year low in 2013; a 14 percent reduction in deaths over 2012.
The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) recently released final statistics for 2013. There were 638 fatalities last year, a dramatic improvement from 746 fatalities in 2012.
“The good news is that 108 fewer lives were lost,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “The bad news is that 638 people lost loved ones on Kentucky roadways – a number that is unacceptable, as one fatality is too many.”
Gov. Beshear’s Executive Committee on Highway Safety has a strategic highway safety plan titled “Toward Zero Deaths,” which focuses on four critical elements: engineering, education, enforcement and emergency response.
Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock, the governor’s designated highway safety representative and chair of the committee, said the data-driven, comprehensive plan includes collaboration from stakeholders at every level — federal, state, local and private — to identify safety needs and guide investment decisions.
“If our effort results in just one life being saved, it will have been worth it,” said Secretary Hancock. “However, as our plan indicates, we will not rest until the number is zero.”
Of the 638 fatalities last year, 483 were in motor vehicles. Of those killed, 245 were not buckled up and 138 of fatalities involved drugs or alcohol. Motorcyclists accounted for 79 fatalities, with 53 not wearing helmets.
“While the fatality decrease is an improvement, the numbers indicate many motorists still do not realize the responsibility that comes with a license,” said KOHS Director Bill Bell. “We hope by combining our educational efforts with state and local law enforcement and other safety partners, we will continue to raise public awareness of laws and safe driving practices.”
The KOHS offers various highway safety educational programs to the public, distributes federal highway safety grants to state and local highway safety agencies, and promotes the national “Click It or Ticket” seat belt campaign, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” impaired driving campaign and the new “U Text. U Drive. U Pay” texting while driving campaign.
“We’re heading in the right direction, but we need the public’s help,” said Bell. “Everyone must take responsibility and follow all traffic laws, such as wearing a seat belt, driving sober, not texting while driving and obeying the speed limit.”