Despite travel restrictions and closures in Kentucky due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in fewer trips, the number of road fatalities increased in 2020. Initial data from the Highway Safety Office of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, say there were 778 deaths in 2020, up from 732 in 2019, a 5% increase. “2020 has been a year of devastating losses for Kentuckians, but what makes the deaths even more difficult to accept is when they could have been avoided,” Governor Andy Beshear said. “These numbers are unacceptable to us and they should be unacceptable to every driver, every person, in our state. We all need to be more vigilant when it comes to personal safety and driving responsibility if we are to reverse this trend. Of the 778 road fatalities last year, 57.1% were not wearing a seat belt and 15.7% involved alcohol. About 32% involved speeding or aggressive drivers, and 19% involved distracted driving. Pedestrians and cyclists accounted for 97 deaths, while motorcyclists had 74. Transportation Secretary Jim Gray said the number of uncontrolled fatalities in 2020 is of particular concern, which has risen nearly six percent by compared to the previous year. “While numbers are important in identifying potential problems and areas of concern, road safety is not just about numbers, it’s about people,” Gray said. “These are fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers who have left their loved ones behind. These lives could have been saved with the snap of a seat belt. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, wearing seat belts gives motorists the best chance of preventing injury or death in the event of an accident. Correctly fastened seat belts support the strongest parts of the body, such as the chest, hips and shoulders. A seat belt distributes the force of a collision over a wide area of the body, putting less stress on any part of the body, and allows the body to slow down with the collision, extending the time during which collision forces are felt by the vehicle. occupant. “We face a great challenge and we are committed to continuing to work with our local, state and federal partners until we reach our goal of zero fatalities on Kentucky roads,” Gray said. “However, we need the public’s help. We ask motorists to commit to safeguarding driving behavior while driving, and for everyone, drivers and passengers, commit to always wearing their seat belts. Death figures will remain preliminary until all road crash data is collected, and a final report is expected to be released in April. So far in 2021, preliminary figures indicate that there have been 79 road fatalities, down five from the same period last year.
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