Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Fletcher Receives National Award for Highway Safety

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, September 26, 2007  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

Doug Hogan

Group cites his leadership ‘in improving the lives of all Kentuckians’

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher has won a national award for historic highway safety measures that have resulted in a decrease in traffic fatalities in Kentucky. 

Governor Fletcher received the 2007 Peter K. O’Rourke Special Achievement Award – highest award of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) – at the recent GHSA annual meeting in Portland, Ore.  The award, named for a past GHSA chair and highway safety leader, recognized outstanding highway safety accomplishments in 2006.

During that period, Governor Fletcher, working with the Kentucky Legislature, won passage of three important highway safety measures – the primary seatbelt law, graduated driver’s license legislation, and “quick clearance” law, which permits drivers involved in minor, noinjury fender benders to move their vehicles to the side of the interstate or parkway. Highway fatalities dropped to a five-year low in 2006.

“I’m pleased to share this honor with all of Kentucky’s safety professionals, who join me in my commitment to saving lives and reducing injuries on Kentucky’s roadways,” said Governor Fletcher.  “The single most important thing we can do to reduce fatalities and devastating injuries caused by vehicle crashes is to wear our seatbelts.  In addition, we always need to obey traffic laws and drive defensively.”

In honoring Governor Fletcher, the national association noted that 71 percent of those killed in Kentucky traffic accidents in 2005 were not wearing seatbelts. “Under his leadership, the commonwealth has made great strides in improving the lives of all Kentuckians with stronger highway safety measures,” the GSHA said.

Governor Fletcher was one of six individuals and groups from across the nation to be honored by GSHA for achievements in highway safety.  Tim Hazlette, commissioner of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Department of Transportation Safety, accepted the award on the Governor’s behalf.

“Traffic safety is a passion for me because our initiatives are saving lives,” Governor Fletcher said.  “Those saved are the people we see at work, the grocery store, church and when we are out shopping.  We are reducing our fatality rates because we are working collaboratively to make our highways safer for everyone.”

“Governor Fletcher is the champion of highway safety,” said Transportation Cabinet Secretary Bill Nighbert.  “No one is more deserving of this award than our Governor.  He has consistently challenged us to find every way possible to improve highway safety in Kentucky.”

Early in his administration Governor Fletcher created the Governor’s Executive Committee on Highway Safety to act as one voice on highway safety initiatives in Kentucky.  The committee’s members are drawn from what is commonly referred to as the “four Es” of highway safety:  engineering, enforcement, education and emergency response.  Last year, the Governor also established the Department of Transportation Safety to further emphasize his commitment to making our roads safer.

“Governor Fletcher’s leadership was crucial for the passage of our primary seatbelt law, not to mention the graduated driver license and quick clearance legislation, which will save lives too,” said Hazlette, who is chairman of the executive committee.  “The Governor is to be congratulated for this honor by the GHSA.  Few people in the nation are as genuinely committed to highway safety.”

Kentucky recorded 913 highway fatalities in 2006, down from 985 the year before and the lowest total since 2001, when 843 people died on Kentucky roads. Fatalities to date in 2007 number about 25 fewer than at the same point in 2006, though figures may fluctuate daily. The primary seatbelt law is expected to save more than 60 lives in Kentucky over the course of a year.

Information about GSHA and the O’Rourke award can be found at: