Kentucky steers motorists to buckle up, put phones down to increase roadway safety

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) is driving home a safety message to motorists aimed at preventing crashes by encouraging two life-saving actions behind the wheel- buckling up and putting down the phone.

Launching today, the state’s first Buckle Up Phone Down campaign features videos, radio spots, digital advertising and a new dedicated website, kyhighwaysafety.com, to promote the initiative.

“The campaign offers compelling stories from credible sources urging drivers to buckle up and put the phone down,” said KOHS Acting Director Jason Siwula. “We believe that if all drivers practice these two, simple behaviors, we will see a dramatic reduction in fatalities and injuries on our roadways.”

According to KOHS, each year in Kentucky, distracted driving results in more than 50,000 crashes, more than 15,000 injuries and approximately 200 deaths. Distracted driving behaviors, like texting, emailing and talking, are discouraged and drivers are advised to not interact with their phone.

“If you must use your phone, safe practices like waiting to text until you parked off the roadway or having your passenger give you driving directions can reduce the risk of preventable crashes,” said Siwula.

Both drivers and passengers should buckle up each and every time they get in a vehicle. While more and more cars feature modern safety features to reduce crashes and fatal injuries, seat belts still rank supreme. According to KOHS, each year in Kentucky, more than half of those killed are not wearing a seat belt.

“Sometimes even the most attentive drivers are involved in a crash caused by other drivers,” said Siwula. “That is why wearing a seat belt is the best defense against serious injuries and death.”

Overall, highway fatalities in Kentucky declined in 2018 to 724, down from 782 in 2017.

“While this achievement demonstrates safety is trending in the right direction, a single fatality is frankly one too many and we’re asking for the public’s help,” said Siwula. “By working together to promote safe driving practices, we can make a difference and save lives.”

As of Oct. 7, preliminary numbers indicate there have been 576 fatalities in 2019, up 21 compared to the same time last year. Approximately 220 of those fatalities were unbelted and more than 120 involved distraction.