Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury in the U.S. Crashes are also the main cause of death for U.S. teens. In fact, six teens, age 16 to 19, die every day from motor vehicle injuries. While there are many factors that can cause a crash, the main factors include: distracted driving, inexperience with driving (for teen drivers), drunk driving and not wearing a seat belt.
- In 2012, nearly 200,000 Americans were hospitalized for crash injuries. On average, crash-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations cost $3,300 to $57,000 respectively over a person’s lifetime.
- In 2011, motor vehicle crashes injured more than 2.6 million people in the United States.
- More than 1 million days are spent by Americans in hospitals each year from crash injuries.
- In Kentucky in 2014, there were over 53,500 crashes resulting in over 14,000 injuries due to distracted driving.
Kentucky laws and policies to help prevent vehicle crash injuries
Fortunately, crash injuries and deaths are preventable. The following are laws in Kentucky that are implemented to improve the safety of drivers, passengers, other motorists and pedestrians on the road. These include:
- Cellphone and Texting Ban. In 2010, House Bill 415 was signed into law, which bans texting for drivers of all ages while the vehicle is in motion. Texting while driving is considered dangerous because it involves all three types of distractions namely visual, manual and cognitive.
- DUI Law. In Kentucky, it is illegal to drive with a blood or breath alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. A new provision to this law also prohibits an open alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a motor vehicle while on public highways.
- Graduated Driver Licensing System. The main goal of this program is to curb the number of crashes involving teen drivers. In this system, an intermediate period of six months is created. During this period, teen drivers will have a full license with two restrictions on their driving privileges. These restrictions include no driving from midnight to 6 a.m. except for emergencies and that the teen driver cannot drive with more than one unrelated passenger under the age of 20.
- Booster Seat Law. This enhanced law requires children who are younger than 8 or under 57 inches to be secured in a booster seat. A booster seat lifts the child up off the vehicle seat to improve the fit of the adult lap and shoulder seat belt.
- Seat Belt Law. The law specifies that a person should not operate a motor vehicle manufactured after 1981 on public roadways unless the driver and all passengers are properly wearing a seat belt. Kentucky’s seat belt law has been a primary enforcement law since 2006. This means that law enforcement officers can stop a vehicle solely for not wearing their seat belt.
- Other laws and policies implemented to help curb crash injuries are: sobriety checkpoints, speed limits and the universal helmet law.
As a Kentucky Car Accident Attorney, I would like to remind everyone to properly use and wear seat belts on every trip. Make sure your passengers, old and young, are buckled up, too. Also, only drive when you are completely sober. Never drive after drinking alcohol or when intoxicated. It’s also important to put all distractions away so you can focus on the road. This will allow you to better react to a sudden situation while driving.