FRANKFORT — Law enforcement throughout Kentucky will conduct a high-visibility enforcement campaign from Oct. 6 through Oct. 9 emphasizing seat belt use to save lives and prevent injuries due to traffic crashes.
“While we can’t control the actions of other drivers on the road, one thing we can do is to always buckle up to keep ourselves, and others safe,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “Kentucky is participating in Operation Crash Reduction to help drivers and passengers remember the importance of seat belt use and other safe driving practices.”
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s (KYTC) Office of Highway Safety (KOHS), state and local law enforcement and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are teaming up to support the operation.
“While we always encourage safe driving practices, this specialized campaign focuses on the importance of buckling up,” said KYTC Secretary Jim Gray. “If you are involved in a crash, properly fastened child seats and seat belts provide the best defense against injury or death.”
Operation Crash Reduction is focused on NHTSA Region 3, consisting of Delaware, the District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia — a region that sees some of the nation’s highest numbers of traffic deaths.
Since 2011, October has been the highest month for fatal crashes in the United States. In Region 3 states, approximately half of vehicle occupants killed in these crashes were unrestrained. Additionally, since 2011, more roadway deaths occurred on Columbus Day weekend than during the holiday periods of Thanksgiving or Memorial Day.
“For several years now, we have had this troubling trend,” said NHTSA Regional Administrator Stephanie Hancock. “We know that speed, distraction and impairment are the root causes of most of the crashes in these states. However, seat belt and child safety seat use are your primary sources of protection in crashes caused by speeding, impaired or distracted drivers.”
In Kentucky, there have been 1,232 fatal crashes during the month of October since 2011. In eight of those years, October had the highest or second highest number of fatal crashes. Last year there were 371 injuries and 4 deaths on Kentucky roadways during the Oct. 7-11 holiday weekend.
“That is why we are working with NHTSA and our state and local law enforcement partners to encourage motorists to buckle up and put the phone down,” said Gray.
According to NHTSA, when worn correctly, seat belts reduce the risk of fatalities by 45% for front-seat vehicle occupants and by 60% for pickup truck, SUV and minivan occupants.
“Seat belts save lives,” said Hancock. “Everyone — front seat and back, child and adult — should remember to buckle up.”
For more information on seat belts, visit nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/seat-belts.