Highway fatalities drop to 10-year low in 2009

COVINGTON, KY (FOX19) - The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety says highway fatalities dropped to a 10-year low in 2009.

There were 791 fatalities last year, 35 fewer than in 2008 and the lowest total since 1999, when the death toll was 729. Fatalities declined for the fourth consecutive year.

"The good news is that 35 fewer lives were lost," Gov. Steve Beshear said. "The bad news is that people are still needlessly dying on Kentucky highways. We will not rest until the number is zero, because one fatality is one too many."

Gov. Beshear's Executive Committee on Highway Safety is working to update and implement the state's strategic highway safety plan, which focuses on four critical elements: engineering, education, enforcement and emergency response.

Of the 791 fatalities last year, 649 were in motor vehicles. Of those killed, 61 percent were not buckled up and 20 percent of fatalities involved alcohol. Motorcyclists accounted for 80 fatalities. More than 60 percent of those killed were not wearing helmets and 19 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes involved alcohol.

"While the fatality decrease is an improvement, the numbers indicate many motorists still do not realize the responsibility that comes with a license," said KOHS Executive Director Chuck Geveden. "We hope the combined efforts of state and local law enforcement and other safety partners will continue to raise public awareness of laws and safe driving practices."

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