The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Office of Highway Safety reports the preliminary numbers indicate highway fatalities increased in the state last year.
In 2020, the initial data shows there were 778 fatalities, compared to 732 in 2019 — a five percent increase.
Of the 778 highway fatalities last year in Kentucky, state officials reported 57.1 percent were not wearing a seat belt and 15.7 percent involved alcohol. Approximately 32 percent involved in speeding or aggressive drivers and 19 percent involved driver distraction. Officials said pedestrians and bicyclists accounted for 97 deaths and motorcyclists accounted for 74 deaths.
State Transportation Secretary Jim Gray said the number of unrestrained deaths is particularly concerning, increasing by almost six (6) percent compared to 2019.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), wearing a seat belt gives motorists the best chance of preventing injury or death if involved in a crash.
Officials said the governor’s 2021 Recommended Budget included historic safety investments, including $3 million to implement the Strategic Highway Safety Plan in an effort to save lives related to six emphasis areas: Aggressive Driving, Distracted Driving, Impair Driving, Occupant Protection (seat belts and child seats), Roadway Departure, and Vulnerable Road User (motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists).
Transportation officials said the fatality figures will remain preliminary until all highway crash data is collected and the final report is released in April.
So far in 2021, preliminary numbers indicate there have been 79 roadway deaths, down five (5) compared to the same time last year.