State traffic fatality rate puzzles local officials: Numbers show week-long jumps in Ky. highway fatalities


While Murray State officials have noted a decrease in traffic accidents, state averages show sporadic data. || Jordie Oetken/The News

Meghann Anderson
Staff writer

Traffic fatalities in the state are changing daily, when compared to the numbers from last year.

However, statewide data indicates a decrease in traffic fatalities for the current year, but an increase in the last month.

From Jan. 1 to Feb. 29, preliminary statistics show 95 people have died on Kentucky roadways. This is one less fatality than reported for the same time period in 2011.

There were 720 fatalities during 2011.

A final total will not be available until April 2, but the initial numbers from 2011 indicate there were 720 fatalities on Kentucky roads.

David Jude, spokesperson for the Kentucky State Police, said they want to be proactive in addressing the increase of highway deaths on Kentucky’s roads.

“KSP want to remind motorists not to become complacent when it comes to highway safety,” Jude said. “We plan to be vigilant in enforcing seat belt laws and will continue targeting impaired drivers who endanger the lives of others.”

Nathan Dean, traffic safety data services coordinator for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said as of Feb. 9, 86 crashes were noted with cell phone use as a factor. Last year there were 91 crashes with cell phones involved.

Accidents on campus have been decreasing since Public Safety officials have implemented new safety plans on campus.

Lt. Jeff Gentry, Public Safety officer, said there are several safety programs the Murray State Police have implemented to help with safety on campus.

The Murray State Police will conduct traffic safety campaigns in conjunction with the state initiatives. Some of these programs, which mirror the state initiatives, will include traffic checkpoints where they will discuss seat belt usage and the dangers of texting while driving.

Gentry said officers will do traffic enforcement as normal patrol, issue warnings, citations and make arrests if necessary.

“Officers will also conduct educational programs in the residential colleges; officers will speak on drinking and driving, the laws and penalties,” Gentry said. “Officers will use the drunk goggles to simulate an impaired driver.”

A program to help with traffic accidents on campus will have officers present educational programs to students. The Murray State Police is working with the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety on all campaigns.

“The goal is to prevent fatalities on our highways,” Gentry said. “The priority is the safety of our students, faculty and staff.”