Department of Highways, District 10
‘March Madness, Not March Sadness’ -- Drive Smart Enforcement Blitz Scheduled for KY 15 in Wolfe, Breathitt and Perry Counties March 4-10 Will Coincide With the 14th Region High School Basketball Tournament
JACKSON, KY. – (Feb. 26, 2007) – The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Department of Transportation Safety has a message for basketball fans traveling to the 14th Regional high school tournaments this year: Wear your seat belts, obey the speed limit, and don’t drive while intoxicated.
To help reinforce that message and reduce the number of traffic accidents, the Cabinet's Drive Smart Program will be coordinating the KY 15 Safety Corridor Blitz during a weeklong effort beginning Sunday March 4 in Wolfe, Breathitt and Perry counties.
This period coincides with the 14th Regional high school basketball tournaments. High schools from Estill, Powell, Lee, Owsley, Wolfe, Breathitt and Perry counties in KYTC’s Highway District 10 compete in the 14th Region, along with schools in Leslie, Knott and Letcher counties. This year, the boys’ tournament will be held at Letcher County Central in Whitesburg, and the girls’ tournament will be held at Knott County Central in Hindman. Fans from all across the region will be using KY 15 through the three counties to reach those destinations. During the blitz, special education and law enforcement activities will seek to increase compliance with Kentucky's traffic laws while decreasing crashes. This effort is aimed at cutting the number of accidents, injuries and fatalities along a highway that carries a high volume of personal and commercial traffic through Kentucky's mountains.
“We don’t want ‘March Madness’ to turn into ‘March Sadness,’” said Bill Nighbert, secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. “There will be an increased amount of traffic on KY 15 during tournament week, and much of that traffic will be young, inexperienced drivers going to the games. This gives us a perfect opportunity to spread the highway safety message and to reinforce the notion that seat belt usage saves lives.”
The safety corridor and blitz area runs along KY 15 and the KY 15 Spur from the Mountain Parkway in Wolfe County near Campton to the Perry-Knott county line south of Hazard. This section of KY 15 is primarily a two-lane route, with passing lanes on hills and some four-lane sections in Perry County. The speed limit is 55 mph in rural areas, with lower speed limits in the Campton, Jackson and Hazard areas and in a construction zone in Breathitt County.
Working with KYTC's Department of Transportation Safety and the Kentucky River Area Development District, law enforcement agencies in the three counties will aggressively patrol KY 15 and will establish safety checkpoints along the highway. The officers will be looking for drivers committing offenses such as speeding, reckless driving, improper passing and driving under the influence.
“There will be a lot of school buses using KY 15 to transport teams, bands, cheerleaders and pep clubs to the tournaments, and we want to help prevent any crashes involving these buses and other vehicles,” said Tim Hazlette, commissioner of the Department of Transportation Safety. “Violations such as failure to wear seat belts, improperly restraining children, having improper equipment or failure to have insurance will be strictly enforced during the blitz. Our goal, however, is not just to write tickets, but to improve safety along the route,” Hazlette said.
Participating agencies include Kentucky State Police, Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement, Jackson Police Department, Hazard Police Department, Campton Police Department, Wolfe County's Sheriff's Office, Breathitt County Sheriff's Office and Perry County Sheriff's Office.
During the blitz, portable visual radar units will be placed along KY 15 to notify drivers of their speed and as a reminder for them to obey the posted speed limit. Electronic message boards will also be used to alert drivers to the enforcement emphasis.
The KY 15 Safety Corridor is one of 13 corridors identified for special emphasis in collision reduction through a data-driven process by the Governor's Executive Committee on Highway Safety. Other initiatives that have been undertaken along the corridor include surveying high school students on their seat belt usage habits, installing signs reminding drivers to buckle up at the exits to several high school campuses and installing signs noting KY 15's designation as an official safety corridor.
“The basketball tournaments are a high point of the year for our high schools, given the popularity of basketball in this part of Kentucky,” said Linda Wagner-Justice, chief district engineer for the Transportation Cabinet’s Highway District 10. “Schools and communities rally around their teams at tournament time and there is an increased sense of local pride when the hometown team does well. This is a time of joy and happiness, especially for the winning team and community. We don’t want to see a preventable tragedy intrude on the occasion, so that’s why we are stepping up education and enforcement efforts this week. We want all the fans to reach the games safely and arrive back home safely, win or lose.”
Visit http://drivesmart.ky.gov for more information on safety corridors and other Drive Smart programs.