FRANKFORT – The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) and the Kentucky State Police (KSP) are reminding motorists to buckle up as law enforcement agencies throughout the state join the nationwide Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement mobilization May 23-June 5.
“Every day, unbuckled motorists are losing their lives in motor vehicle crashes,” said KOHS Executive Director Bill Bell. “As we approach Memorial Day weekend and the summer vacation season, we want those traveling our roadways to do the one thing that could save them in a crash: buckle up.”
There were 761 total highway fatalities in Kentucky in 2015, with 588 killed in motor vehicles. Of those 588 fatalities, 358 (61 percent) were unrestrained. Six of those motor vehicle fatalities occurred over the Memorial Day holiday. None were wearing a seat belt.
“Clearly this is an indication that people are not taking the law seriously, or they’re just not aware of the huge risk being taken by not buckling up,” said Bell.
Kentucky has a primary seat belt law, meaning everyone is required to buckle up while in a moving vehicle.
“We will be out in force – day and night – ticketing anyone not wearing a seat belt,” said KSP Sgt. Michael Webb. “Drivers must remember that under Kentucky’s law, you are responsible for making sure all of your passengers are properly restrained.”
This year’s campaign, funded by a federal grant through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has a special emphasis on pickup trucks.
A 2014 Seat Belt Usage Survey by the University of Kentucky Transportation Center shows Kentucky’s overall seat belt usage rate as 86.7 percent. However, the usage rate for pickup trucks is the lowest of all vehicles at 79 percent. The usage rate for vans is 88.3 percent and SUVs is 89.2 percent.
“We see unrestrained motorists in all types of vehicles; however, we’re asking pickup truck drivers to be especially aware of the law,” said Webb. “While rollover crashes can occur in any vehicle, pickup trucks are twice as likely to rollover as passenger cars.”
NHTSA estimates that seat belts, when worn correctly, reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent. For pickup trucks, SUVs and van occupants, seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 60 percent and moderate-to critical injury by 65 percent.
“Our goal is to have zero fatalities on Kentucky roadways,” said Bell. “Zero is the only acceptable number.”