Department of Highways, District 11
State and Local Officials Attend Primary Seat Belt Rally in London
Today, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 11 held a Seat Belt Rally to provide information regarding the need and importance for passing a Primary Seat Belt Law. The Rally, held at the Laurel County Fire Department in London, was attended by various members of the community and should raise awareness of the necessity to wear seat belts.
Safety belt usage in Kentucky is only 67% compared to the U.S. rate of 82% with Kentucky ranking 47th in the nation in seatbelt usage. In 2005, two out of every three vehicle occupants killed in motor vehicle crashes in Kentucky were not wearing a safety belt. Tragically, car crashes are the leading cause of death among teens; teen drivers are much more dangerous at night and with passengers; and any driver is most likely to have a crash during the first two years of driving.
Governor Ernie Fletcher called for the passage of a primary seat belt law during his recent State of the Commonwealth address. Passage of a primary seat belt law is all about saving lives, at least 62 fewer fatalities per year.
“Two out of three people killed in highway crashes last year were not wearing a seat belt,” said Chief District Engineer Greene Keith. “We know a primary seat belt law will save more than 60 lives in the first year alone. Some of those saved could be your family members or mine,” continued Mr. Keith. “This issue is about saving lives.
The crowd heard testimonials from several people, Dr. James Foster, ER Physician at Marymount Hospital said he sees the difference a seatbelt can make.
Dr. Foster added, “I see people in the ER whose injuries would have been significantly reduced, or their lives saved, if only they had been wearing their seat belt.”
Chief John Holt, Laurel County Ambulance, Inc., has first hand knowledge of the injuries sustained when someone isn’t buckled up in a vehicle crash. Chief Holt says he witnesses the tragic results too often when someone isn’t wearing a seat belt.
Boyd Sigler, Highway Safety Manager for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said, “People are constantly making excuses as to why Kentucky should not have a primary safety belt law.” He continued saying, “When you talk to family members and friends of individuals who died in traffic crashes and were not wearing a safety belt, those excuses mean very little. This has nothing to do with personal rights, it has everything to do with saving lives.”
Brandon Muravchick, Drivers Safety, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, gave a stirring testimony of involvement in an accident that has been featured on the “Rescue 911” television show with actual video of the crash scene.
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 would 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.
• Overall, Kentucky would save $324 million in comprehensive costs (lost life years and productivity).