Traffic accidents have increased in Kentucky in 2011, even by as much as 27 percent in some counties. Reasons for this increase could include large construction projects or more distracted drivers. Fortunately, the number of people killed in Kentucky car and truck accidents has decreased this year, as it has in the last five years. As of October 10, 2011, 549 people have been killed on the road in Kentucky, about 7.7 percent fewer than last year at this time. Although this is a positive trend, Bill Bell, director for the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety says, "The problem is people still are dying on the highways, and that's unacceptable."
So how is the number of traffic deaths decreasing while the number of accidents increases? Mr. Bell thinks the installation of cable barriers between the roadways is a big factor. These barriers keep cars and trucks from crossing over into oncoming traffic, eliminating deadly head-on crashes. Having more police cruisers parked in construction zones also appears to help by slowing down motorists through these areas that can be more congested and confusing with constantly changing barrels, cones and signs.
Individuals can make changes to their driving habits to help reduce the number of accidents and fatalities on the road. One of the most important aspects of safe driving is being focused on the road and the other drivers rather than being distracted. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says cell-phone users are four times as likely to be involved in an accident. Cell phones should not be used for texting or making phone calls unless the vehicle is pulled over and stopped in a safe location. Do not attend to pets or young children in the back seat until the car is stopped as well. Loud music and rowdy passengers can be distracting, especially for teens. Keep the volume down in the vehicle.
Eating, drinking, shaving, and applying makeup are all driving distractions.
Although this should be common knowledge, it bears repeating. Do not drive any vehicle while sleep-deprived or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These conditions not only hinder the driver's ability to control the car, but they also make the driver less aware of his surroundings and less able to react in a potentially unsafe situation.
According to the National Safety Council, 13,000 accident injuries are caused by loose objects in a vehicle. These objects can range from a cell phone to the family pet. Stow small cargo in the glove compartment or under the seats. Place larger items such as laptops and luggage in the trunk. Make sure pets are properly restrained in a stationary pet carrier or with a seat belt designed for animals.
Always wear a seat belt and use the correct car seat for children. Car seats for younger children that are latched into the vehicle can be checked at many police or fire stations to confirm they are properly installed. Regulations on car-seat use vary by state. Even if state laws do not require car seats after a certain age, check recommendations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at http://www.nhtsa.gov for the safest way for a child to be restrained.
Never put too much trust in other drivers. They may be distracted, drowsy, or driving too fast. Allow plenty of room between other vehicles and be aware of erratic drivers. Leave early enough to have time to reach a destination in a safe, stress-free manner. If an accident does occur and legal assistance is needed, contact Kentucky accident attorneys Miller & Falkner.
Fatal Wrecks Continue to Drop Statewide; nky.com; Mike Rutledge; October 10, 2011
Five Mistakes Good Drivers Make and How to Steer Clear of Them; Erie Insurance