Kentucky Highway Fatalities Increase; Officials Urge Safety

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — An increase in traffic fatalities last year has Kentucky officials urging drivers to focus on safety behind the wheel.

The number of fatalities on Kentucky highways rose by 26, with 806 killed in 2021 compared with 780 in 2020, according to data from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Office of Highway Safety and Kentucky State Police.

Officials said 54.7 percent of those who died were not wearing a seat belt. The data showed that 26 percent of crashes involved speeding or aggressive drivers and 15 percent of the crashes involved alcohol.

“Failing to click a seat belt or turn over the keys after drinking has impacted the lives of grieving Kentucky families whose loved one could have been spared from these preventable deaths. We all must be vigilant to practice safe behaviors to reverse this trend," Gov. Andy Beshear said in a statement from the agencies.

Transportation Secretary Jim Gray said the state would increase awareness campaigns but asked drivers to commit to safe driving behaviors including the use of seat belts for everyone in the vehicle.