Kentucky highway fatalities rose again in 2021, by 3%; once more, most of those killed were not wearing their seat belt
Ky. Health News graph from state data shows fatalities not using a seat belt, and in which alcohol, speeding or aggressive driving, and distracted driving were involved, and the total number of fatalities.
Deaths from highway accidents in Kentucky rose 3.3 percent last year, according to the State Police and the Transportation Cabinet. But so far this year, fatality numbers are running below last year.
Again last year, most of those killed were not wearing a seat belt.
“Of the 806 highway fatalities last year in Kentucky, 54.7 percent were not wearing a seat belt and 15 percent involved alcohol,” the agencies said in a press release. “Approximately 26 percent involved speeding or aggressive drivers and 15 percent involved driver distraction.”
Those percentages were about the same as in 2020, and those two years showed declines in fatal speeding or aggressive driving and driver distraction from 2019. About 32 percent of deaths in 2019 involved speeding or aggressive driving, and 21 percent involved driver distraction.
Unlike the last two years, 2021 saw deaths of motorcyclists outnumber those of pedestrians and bicyclists. In 2021, pedestrians and bicyclists accounted for 85 deaths and motorcyclists accounted for 88 deaths. In 2020, pedestrians and bicyclists accounted for 97 deaths and motorcyclists accounted for 74 deaths. In 2019, pedestrians and bicyclists accounted for 79 deaths and motorcyclists accounted for 77 deaths.
“While we pledge to increase our awareness efforts, we need the public’s help,” Transportation Secretary Jim Gray said in the press release. “We’re asking motorists to commit to save driving behaviors when behind the wheel, and everyone – both drivers and passengers – pledge to always buckle up.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, wearing a seat belt gives motorists the best chance of preventing injury or death if involved in a crash. Properly fastened seat belts contact the strongest parts of the body, such as the chest, hips and shoulders. A seat belt spreads the force of a crash over a wide area of the body, putting less stress on any one part, and allows the body to slow down with the crash, extending the time when the crash forces are felt by the occupant.