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UK Helps Effort to Reduce Traffic Accidents

Contact: Amanda White

Photo of participants in the Put Brakes on Fatalities Day promotion event at UK
(click photo to enlarge)
UK Hospital surgeon Andrew Bernard, M.D., speaks about the emotional and psychological impacts experienced by traffic accident victims and their families.

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Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary James C. Codell III noted that 917 people lost their lives on Kentucky highways last year. That was the deadliest total in 25 years. More than half of the victims were not wearing a seatbelt and about one fourth of the accidents involved alcohol. Codell has been a strong advocate for the passage of a primary seatbelt law, which could save about 75 lives a year in our state.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 8, 2003) -- The University of Kentucky recently took part in an event to promote national “Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day.” Transportation officials, the law enforcement community, emergency first-responders, and medical personnel gathered on the UK Hospital helipad in promotion of safety on Kentucky roadways.

“Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day,” a national celebration to imagine a day without fatalities on the nation’s roadways, is Friday, Oct. 10. Through promotion of the day, the public is encouraged to change their behavior and actions to promote safer roadways in hopes of making the day accident-free.

Andrew Bernard, M.D., clinical instructor of surgery, UK College of Medicine, and John Isfort, interim director of UK emergency transportation services, encouraged drivers to pay attention to safety information. Traffic accident patients are often treated at UK Hospital, one of only two Level I trauma centers in Kentucky.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary James C. Codell III noted that 917 people lost their lives on Kentucky highways last year. That was the deadliest total in 25 years. More than half of the victims were not wearing a seatbelt and about one fourth of the accidents involved alcohol. Codell has been a strong advocate for the passage of a primary seatbelt law, which could save about 75 lives a year in our state.

Justice Cabinet Secretary Ishmon Burks emphasized the need for strong enforcement to curb the fatality rate. He announced that Kentucky State Police, along with other law enforcement agencies, would conduct their next “Buckle Up Kentucky—it’s the law and it’s enforced” mobilization, Nov. 17-30.

Larry Emig, an engineer with the Kansas Department of Transportation, conceived the idea for having a national “Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day.” His idea was to heighten awareness of the simple steps people could take to reduce their chances of being hurt in an accident. “Drive as if your life depends on it” is this year’s campaign theme.

Some of the tips include wearing a seatbelt, obeying the posted speed limits, keeping vehicles properly maintained, not drinking and driving, and being observant of the environment.

October was selected as the month for this special emphasis because it is among the peak months for traffic fatalities. Someone is killed in a traffic accident every 13 minutes in this country, an average of 114 people each day.

About four dozen organizations are involved in the national emphasis, now in its third year. In Kentucky, sponsors for the promotion are: the American Council of Engineering Companies of Kentucky, Federal Highway Administration, Governor’s Highway Safety Program, the Kentucky Society of Professional Engineers, and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.


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