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Office of Highway Safety says 2019 fatalities on state roads increased; ‘single death is one too many’

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Preliminary figures released by the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety show an increase in highway fatalities in 2019, compared to the previous year.

Information released on Monday indicted there were 734 fatalities in 2019, compared to 724 in 2018, an increase of 10.

“A single death is one too many,” said Kentucky Transportation Secretary Jim Gray. “And our 2020 Recommended Highway Plan is our commitment to improving highway safety. Through this plan Governor Beshear calls for a historic $100 million investment in the Highway Safety Improvement Program and an aggressive move to install more than 100 miles of life-saving guardrail across the Commonwealth.”

So far in 2020, preliminary numbers indicate there have been 56 roadway fatalities, down 17 compared to the same time last year.

While pleased with the current downward trend, Acting Highway Safety Director Jason Siwula says the KOHS is increasing efforts to encourage safe driving habits through localized media campaigns and partnerships; such as “Buckle Up Phone Down,” law enforcement blitzes, and free-ride sharing promotions during the holidays.

“We must give credit to the drivers who chose to practice safe driving behaviors,” said Siwula. “We pledge to do our part, but it will take everyone – all citizens of Kentucky – to reach our goal of zero deaths on our roadways.”

Despite the increase from 2018, Kentucky highway deaths remain well below the deadly levels reached between 2002-2006, when more than 900 were killed on the state’s roads each year, peaking at 985 in 2005.

The fatality figures will remain preliminary until all highway crash data is collected. A final report is expected to be released sometime in April.

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