964 Lives Lost on Kentucky Highways - Ceremony Honors Victims of Traffic Accidents
Even though a little more than a year has past, it is still difficult for Robyn White to talk about her son’s death. Jeremy Neil Smith, Robyn’s son, was one of the 964 killed on Kentucky’s highways in 2004. With tears in her eyes, Robyn told of her son’s fatal motorcycle crash and urged motorists to drive safely at today’s memorial ceremony at the Transportation Cabinet in Frankfort.
Robyn recalled the time they were together right before Jeremy’s accident, “He had this ring on a chain around his neck. He took the chain off, took the ring off the chain and placed the ring on my finger.” That moment will be etched in Robyn’s mind forever.
Transportation Deputy Secretary Jim Adams expressed sympathy to the families saying, “While I personally did not know most of the victims, I do know that they were the most important person in the world to someone.”
More than half (527) of the victims were not wearing seat belts. The crash victims ranged in age from infants to 100 and 146 were teenagers. Alcohol was a factor in 289 of the crashes.
This ceremony compliments the work being performed by Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Executive Committee on Highway Safety. The committee was created to develop strategies to reduce highway fatalities and serious injuries on Kentucky roads.
Adams, committee chair, pledged to continue to make safety on our roadways a high priority. “Our goal is to provide a safe and reliable transportation system,” Adams said. “In an effort to curb these high death rates, the Transportation Cabinet is involved in a number of innovative safety programs and we are already seeing results from our efforts.”
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 the state’s eight welcome centers, the rest area at Slade and in front of the Kentucky Transportation headquarters in Frankfort. A bronze plate with the “964” number has been added at each of these locations. The number of fatalities for the previous nine years is also listed on the plaque.
The plaque on each memorial request a moment of silence for the lives lost. Hopefully as motorists see the signs they will pause and reflect on the lives lost and their responsibility for safety on the roads.