KENTUCKY — Highway fatalities in Kentucky rose slightly last year according to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s (KYTC) Office of Highway Safety and Kentucky State Police (KSP).
What You Need To Know
- Fatalities on Kentucky's highways saw a slight increase last year
- There were 806 fatalities in 2021, compared to 780 in 2020
- Of the 806 highway fatalities last year in Kentucky, 54.7% were not wearing a seat belt and 15% involved alcohol
- Kentucky rates 39th when it comes to which U.S. state has the safest drivers
There were 806 fatalities in 2021, compared to 780 in 2020 – amounting to a 3.3% increase. Gov. Andy Beshear called the increase "concerning" in a news release on Monday.
“Failing to click a seat belt or turn over the keys after drinking has impacted the lives of grieving Kentucky families whose loved one could have been spared from these preventable deaths," Beshear said. "We all must be vigilant to practice safe behaviors to reverse this trend.”
Of the 806 highway fatalities last year in Kentucky, 54.7% were not wearing a seat belt and 15% involved alcohol, according to the data. Over a forth involved speeding or aggressive drivers and 15% involved driver distraction.
“While numbers are important to identify potential issues and areas of concern, highway safety is not all about numbers – it’s about people,” said KYTC Secretary Jim Gray. “Reaching our goal of zero traffic deaths in Kentucky is a challenge, but we remain committed to making roadway safety improvements and working with our local, state and federal partners to move the needle.”
Kentucky rates 39th when it comes to which U.S. state has the safest drivers, according to Safewise data looking at the fatality rate per 1,000 drivers. The safest state for drivers is Massachusetts, and it's most dangerous to be on the road in Louisiana.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an estimated 31,720 people died from vehicle crashes in the U.S. from January through September 2021, which was up 12% from the year prior.
One of the best ways to reduce traffic deaths is through public awareness campaigns and strict enforcement, according to law enforcement officials.
“The last thing we want to do is make a death notification, so if we can potentially save a life by writing a ticket, we’ll do it,” said KSP Capt. Paul Blanton. “At the end of the day, we want everyone to make it home safely.”
Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, Buckle Up Phone Down and Click It or Ticket are some of the notable safety campaigns deployed in Kentucky.
According to NHTSA, wearing a seat belt gives motorists the best chance of preventing injury or death if involved in a crash. Properly fastened seat belts contact the strongest parts of the body, such as the chest, hips and shoulders.
“We encourage motorists to make safe choices on the road because it’s the right thing to do, not just because it is the law,” said Capt. Blanton. “Some may see it as an inconvenience, but traffic laws are in place for a reason – to save lives.”
There's good news so far for this year, though. Preliminary numbers indicate there have been 175 roadway deaths, down 16 compared to the same time last year.