The number of traffic fatalities in Kentucky in 2014 has surpassed those in 2013.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says there were 644 traffic-related deaths as of Dec. 29. That’s compared to 635 deaths in the same time frame in 2013.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman Keith Todd said several things likely factored into the increase including the lack of seatbelt usage by more than half of those killed and the lower price of gasoline.
“It may sound odd, but the lower price of gasoline is likely a player in the higher numbers,” Todd said. “Cheaper gas means more people driving more miles, creating the opportunity for more crashes. When gas prices were higher, folks were likely limiting their driving miles and that helped to drive down fatalities.”
He said the number of impaired drivers has been reduced with increased police enforcement but crashes attributed to distracted drivers have increased due to the use of cell phones.
“If you are looking down on your phone just for a few seconds the odds of having a crash are going to go up,” Todd said.
He said one simple step by drivers and passengers could help save lives.
“The benefit of simply wearing your safety belt has been clearly demonstrated,” Todd said. “It can cost a million dollars or more to redesign and construct a new intersection to provide added safety. A project may only improve your safety for the few seconds it takes you to drive through it. When you take two seconds to buckle your safety belt, it protects you everywhere you go, not only making it far less likely you’ll be killed in a crash, but making it less likely you’ll have a life-altering injury.”
About 60 percent of those killed in crashes in 2014 weren’t wearing a safety belt.
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