“Our KY Highway Death Toll as of (Christmas Eve) is 10 above a year ago,” said Keith Todd, Public Information Officer for District One & Two of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in Madisonville. “Using our average for the Christmas/New Year’s Holiday period we’re going to end up with about 740 fatalities for the year, about 20 above 2011.”
According to Todd’s statistics, that means there are about 25 people who are alive today who will not be here for New Years.
“Many of them will die because they didn’t take two seconds to buckle up,” said Todd. “About two thirds of those killed in car crashes are not buckled up. About half of those could survive and many more who are seriously injured could avoid injuries by simply buckling up.”
NHTSA data shows that when lap/shoulder seat belts are used properly, they reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent. For light-truck front-seat occupants, seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 60 percent and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 65 percent.
“Increasing seat belt use is the simplest and least expensive way to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads,” Todd explained. “During 2005, the nation’s seat belt usage increased to a record 82 percent. This means that over 15,000 lives are now being saved through the use of seat belts. Every percentage point increase in seat belt usage yields an additional 270 lives saved each year, and $800 million in costs saved.”
KYTC encourages motorists across the state to prepare their vehicles for holiday travel and winter weather.
“Motorist safety is our foremost concern,” said Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock. “Taking a few precautions now will help make holiday trips safer, and drivers will be better prepared should a cold weather emergency occur.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), vehicle owners should check the condition of the vehicle’s battery, tires and windshield wipers – and replace them if necessary.
“Basic vehicle maintenance is the first step in making holiday travel safer,” Hancock said. “It’s a relatively quick process that may help prevent an unfortunate situation later.”
NHTSA also suggests adding no-freeze fluid in the washer reservoir and checking the vehicle’s antifreeze.
“Winter provides new challenges and responsibilities to the public and the Kentucky State Police,” says KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer. “We ask that drivers be prepared to meet the challenges of the upcoming winter season in Kentucky. Plan ahead, make sure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained, drive defensively and be sure the vehicle is properly maintained to handle the effects of cold temperatures.”
KSP reported that slippery roads were the contributing factor in 14,913 crashes and 63 fatalities in 2011.
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA) deaths related to winter storms and cold weather exceed those related to tornados, hurricanes or lightning. AAA recommends carrying the following items during colder weather:
• Ice scraper and brush
• Jumper cables
• Small shovel
• Sand or cat litter – for added traction
For longer winter road trips, AAA suggests packing some additional items:
• Extra winter clothing
• Blanket or sleeping bag
• First aid kit
• Food and water
For the latest travel and road condition information in Kentucky, motorists may dial 511 or log onto 511.ky.gov.
Emergency motorist assistance on Kentucky’s interstates and parkways is available by calling 877-FOR-KYTC.
J-E News Editor
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