The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s (KYTC) Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) is joining law enforcement around the commonwealth and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the annual federally-funded high-visibility seat belt enforcement effort.
“Buckling up can make all the difference between recovering from injuries versus losing your life in the unfortunate event you’re involved in a crash,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “I urge drivers to make the safe choice to wear a seatbelt and ensure child passengers are securely restrained every time they travel. Let’s do everything we can to keep more of our families and loved ones safe while on the road.”
According to the KOHS, of the 744 roadway deaths last year in Kentucky, 512 were occupants of motor vehicles. Of those killed in motor vehicle crashes, 52% (268) were either not wearing a seat belt or were not properly restrained in a car seat or booster seat. Seven of the 512 were children ages 9 and under. One of the seven was improperly restrained.
“Buckling up should be a natural reflex for drivers and passengers every time they enter a vehicle,” said KYTC Secretary Jim Gray. “No matter the vehicle, time of day or distance, the best way to stay safe is to wear your seat belt – every trip, every time.”
According to NHTSA, despite the low traffic volume, fatal crashes are three times higher nationwide at nighttime versus daytime. Of the 512 occupants killed in motor vehicle crashes in Kentucky last year, 220 occurred at night. Of those, 126 were unrestrained.
More than 100 law enforcement agencies throughout Kentucky have participated in the KOHS Click It or Ticket “Local Heroes” initiative to reinforce this message. Localized public service announcements (PSAs) feature actual officers, deputies and Troopers in counties with low seat belt usage rates and/or a high number of unrestrained motorist-involved crashes. The PSAs will air during the Click It or Ticket campaign beginning Memorial Day weekend. In areas without a county-specific PSA, statewide versions will air featuring various law enforcement agencies throughout the state.
“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 Secretary Gray. “However, if a life may be saved by writing a ticket, they will do it.”
According to NHTSA, when worn correctly, seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45 percent for front-seat vehicle occupants and by 60 percent for pickup truck, SUV and minivan occupants. Properly fastened seat belts contact the body's strongest parts, such as the chest, hips and shoulders. A seat belt spreads the force of a crash over a wide area of the body, putting less stress on any one part, and allows the body to slow down with the crash, extending the time when the occupant feels the crash forces.