Department of Highways, District 11
Honoring Victims of Traffic Accidents

Press Release Date:  Monday, May 22, 2006  
Contact Information:  SANDY RUDDER
(606) 598-21

MANCHESTER, KY –(May 22, 2006)--The 985 persons who lost their lives in 2005 on Kentucky highways were remembered today at the Whitley County Welcome Center located off I-75, Northbound, in Williamsburg, KY.  A bronze plate with the 2005 number “985” was added to the monument, the highest since 1973, more than 32 years.  Numbers of fatalities for the previous nine years are also listed on the plaque. 

 Nearly two out of every three victims in highway crashes last year were not wearing a safety belt.   The crash victims ranged in age from 0 to 97 and 148 of the fatalities were 19 and under.  At least 240 of the fatalities occurred in an accident that had alcohol involved.  Of the 120 counties 119 had fatalities, there were none in Robertson County.

 While several states have markers for employees killed in the line of duty, Kentucky was the first state to erect permanent memorials for citizens who died on the roadways.  Monuments to remember the persons who lost their lives are located at eight welcome centers throughout the state, the rest area at Slade and in front of the Kentucky Transportation headquarters in Frankfort. 

The plaque on each memorial requests a moment of silence for the lives lost.  Hopefully, motorists seeing the signs will pause and reflect on the lives lost and realize their responsibility for safety on the roads.

 The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet saw the establishment of these markers as a safety issue.  Many people place roadside memorials at the site where their loved one died, making them dangerous to install and maintain as well as distracting to drivers.  The permanent memorials were placed to discourage these private memorials.

 Governor Ernie Fletcher’s courageous move to call for a primary seat belt law put the issue in the forefront during the recent regular session of the General Assembly.  Legislators eventually adopted a seat belt bill and Governor Fletcher signed it into law.  Enacting the primary seat belt law is viewed as the single most important safety measure at our disposal as we work to put the brakes on fatalities and serious injury crashes on Kentucky highways.

 Recent research from the University of Kentucky’s Transportation Center and from the Kentucky Institute of Medicine revealed some startling projections concerning the impact a primary seat belt law will have on Kentucky families and the state’s economy.  Some highlights include:

• At least 62 fewer fatalities per year
• 388 fewer incapacitating spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries
• 1,051 fewer non-incapacitating injuries from accidents involving passenger vehicles and light trucks.
• Kentucky’s Medicaid budget would save a minimum of $40.9 million over 10 years, including $2.2 million the first year and $585,000 per year for long-term medical care.
• Kentucky would save $324 million in comprehensive costs (lost life years and productivity).

 The fatality numbers for the past 11 years are as follows: 2005 – 985, 2004 – 964, 2003- 928, 2002 – 915, 2001 – 843, 2000 – 823, 1999 – 819, 1998 – 869, 1997 – 865, 1996 – 846, 1995 – 856. 

 As this memorial holiday begins the summer travel season, the public is reminded to buckle up, drive smart and stay alert for road construction and the workers making improvements to our highways.