During the four-day 2006 Thanksgiving holiday period, 15 people died in motor vehicle crashes on Kentucky roadways. Of the 15 fatalities, 13 of the victims were not using seat belts.
"Through Nov. 14, Kentucky has recorded 751 highway fatalities in 2007," notes Adams. "These needless deaths are tragic and I urge all motorists to protect themselves and their fellow travelers by following these safe driving tips."
â?¢ Don't drink and drive. Kentucky has a zero tolerance policy regarding driving while impaired by alcohol. Operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .08 will result in an immediate arrest even for first time offenders. Motorists can also be arrested for lower levels if they are under 21 years of age or operating a commercial vehicle.
â?¢ Buckle up. Kentucky law makes the driver responsible for assuring that all occupants in their vehicle are properly restrained. No warnings will be issued to drivers found not wearing a safety belt. They will receive a citation.
â?¢ Use approved child re-straints. According to Kentucky law, all children 40 inches in height or less, must be buckled into a child safety restraint seat that meets federal standards. Children over 40 inches tall must wear a seat belt. Violation of this law will result in a $50 fine with an additional $10 fine donated to the Traumatic Brain Injury Trust Fund. Motorists should be aware that the back seat is the safest place for children to sit, especially in vehicles equipped with passenger-side air bags. Infants and toddlers should never ride in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger-side air bag. Parents should always be sure that their child's safety seat has been properly installed in the vehicle according to the manufacturer's instructions.
â?¢ Obey speed limits. Excessive speed reduces your ability to avoid a crash, extends your vehicle's stopping distance and increases the severity of a crash when it occurs.
â?¢ Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation and fatigue can cause lapses in attention, slowed awareness and impaired judgement.
â?¢ Don't tailgate. Follow other vehicles at a safe distance. If you find yourself being tailgated, don't hit the brakes. Slow down gradually and let the other vehicle pass you.
â?¢ Avoid aggressive driving behaviors such as passing on the shoulder of the road, changing lanes without signaling, violating traffic signals and weaving in and out of traffic.
â?¢ Expect the unexpected. Watch traffic around you and be prepared to react. Scan the road ahead for potential hazards.
â?¢ Watch for road debris such as tire treads, garbage, lumber, gravel, tree limbs, mufflers and exhaust parts.
â?¢ Take extra care on rural roads with 55 mile per hour speed limits.
â?¢ Avoid or minimize in-car distractions such as cell phone use, changing tapes or CDs, eating or other activities that can remove your attention from the road.
â?¢ Take frequent breaks to keep alert during long distance trips.
â?¢ Be extra cautious around large trucks. They have large "blind spots" and much longer stopping distances than passenger cars.
â?¢ Remember that three out of four crashes happen within 25 miles of home at speeds of 45 miles per hour or less. About 40 percent of all fatal crashes occur on roads where the speed limit is 30 miles per hour or less.
"Staying focused and alert while driving is a year-round message, but it needs to be re-emphasized during busy holiday travel times," says Adams. "By following this common sense advice, we can all celebrate the season by making it a death-free holiday on our roadways."
Citizens can contribute to highway safety during the holiday period by reporting erratic, impaired or speeding drivers to the KSP toll-free hotline at 1-800-222-5555. Callers will remain anonymous and should give a description of the vehicle, location, direction of travel and license number, if possible.