New legislation will assist in goal of zero deaths
FRANKFORT, Ky.– Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) today released final highway fatality statistics for 2014.
Highway fatalities in Kentucky increased in 2014 after a record low in 2013. There were 672 fatalities last year, 34 more then 2013.
It was, however, the second lowest total since 1949, when 573 fatalities were recorded.
Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock, who is Gov. Steve Beshear’s designated representative for highway safety, said saving lives and reducing serious injuries is a top priority of the administration.
“We are saddened by the fatality increase, and we firmly believe that one fatality is too many,” Secretary Hancock said. “The Governor’s Executive Committee on Highway Safety is committed to providing direction on traffic safety issues as we move ‘Toward Zero Deaths’ on Kentucky’s roadways.”
The Executive Committee includes representatives of 18 highway safety agencies and organizations such as KOHS, Kentucky State Police, federal highway agencies, local law enforcement and emergency services. Its goal is to work cooperatively to update and implement Kentucky’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan – “Toward Zero Deaths.”
KOHS Executive Director Bill Bell said two highway safety bills that recently passed the legislature will help Kentucky make progress toward its goal of zero deaths.
Ignition Interlock: Senate Bill 133
“Even though our fatalities increased this year, we did see a 2.6 percent decrease in alcohol-related fatalities,” Bell said. “We believe this number will continue to decrease as judges begin ordering the installation of ignition interlock devices.”
Senate Bill 133 requires repeat DUI offenders to blow into the ignition interlock device, which is installed on the vehicle. The vehicle will not start if the person’s blood-alcohol concentration exceeds a 0.02 level.
First-time DUI offenders are not required to have the device installed unless there is an aggravating circumstance, such as speeding or driving drunk with a child in the car.
Booster Bill: House Bill 315
“With the passage of the enhanced booster seat bill, Kentucky is finally in line with federal guidelines regarding the safety of our children,” Bell said.
The previous law required children under 7 years old and between 40 and 50 inches tall to ride in booster seats. The enhanced bill increases the height requirement to 57 inches and the age requirement to 8 years old. Children younger than 8 but taller than 57 inches will not have to ride in a booster seat.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts do not properly fit children under 57 inches, and an improperly placed seat belt may cause serious injuries in a crash.
According to the final statistics for 2014, of the 672 fatalities last year, 521 were in motor vehicles. Of those killed in motor vehicle crashes, 61 percent were not buckled up and 18.9 percent of fatalities involved alcohol. Motorcyclists accounted for 76 fatalities, with 59.4 percent not wearing helmets, and 7 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes involved alcohol.