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Fewer dying on Kentucky roads
, Courier Staff Writer
Friday, December 27, 2013 10:00 AM
Trooper James Phelps of the Kentucky State Police, administers a field sobriety test on Kelly Delor, 18, of Louisville, during a traffic safety checkpoint at the offramp of northbound I-71 at exit 17 on Thursday. Delor was arrested on charges of driving under the influence and possession of marijuana. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchieemail@example.com)
Abraham Alazazi, 18, of Louisville, answers questions from KSP Trooper Barrett Brewer during a traffic safety checkpoint. Alazazi was arrested on charges of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchiefirstname.lastname@example.org)
Kentucky State Police say fewer people have been killed on the state's roadways this year than in 2012, giving the state its lowest traffic fatality rate since 1947.
Traffic fatalities are down by 114 in 2013 compared to the same time last year, KSP spokesman Sgt. Michael Webb said Thursday.
State police reports show fatalities are down across the state and locally with Carroll County down by three fatalities and Trimble County down by four fatalities this year.
Traffic fatalities had been decreasing throughout the state since 2005 before a slight increase in 2012, Webb said. Still, 2013 is on target to have the fewest traffic fatalities in Kentucky in more than 60 years.
"We want to finish the year off strong," Webb said during a press conference. "We have reached a real milestone right now."
KSP officials credit the five "E"s - education, enforcement, engineering, emergency response and everyone else - for the decrease in fatal accidents across the state.
They also credit enforcement campaigns such as "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" and "Operation Holiday Lights" for a decrease in impaired drivers.
Webb also said the public's reports and tips of intoxicated drivers and distracted drivers save lives every day.
"We couldn't do this without the help of the public," he said.
Yet one of the most dangerous times of the year for fatal accidents still remains for 2013 - the New Year holiday.
Five fatalities were reported during the New Year holiday in 2012, Webb said. Three of those fatalities were alcohol-related.
"It's tragic that those three (deaths) were preventable," he said.
State police plan to increase safety checkpoints and other enforcement throughout the end of the year as part of the "Finish Strong Kentucky" campaign unveiled Thursday night.
Troopers will be out in force across the state through the end of the year looking for seatbelt violators, drivers under the influence and other distracted motorists.
"The practice of safety checkpoints has proven very effective," Webb said.
A police checkpoint near the exit ramp of Interstate 71 and KY 146 near Buckner on Thursday showed just how effective the checks could be. State police caught three impaired drivers within 20 minutes of setting up the checkpoint around 8 p.m.
Hundreds of other drivers passed through the area within the two-hour check.
The checkpoints also allow troopers to interact with many more drivers than they could by just patrolling roads. A checkpoint stop might take anywhere from 30 seconds to one minute with no problems, Webb said, yet a traffic stop takes up to five minutes whether there is an issue or not.
Plus, officers can usually tell within the first 10 seconds of approaching a vehicle at a checkpoint whether there will be an issue or not, he said.
"We want to encourage people to not get in a car, drink and drive, and make such a senseless decision that alters so many lives," Webb said. "We want to have a very safe New Year holiday."
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