Whitesburg KY

Traffic fatalities down in Ky.

Kentucky is on track for its lowest number of traffic fatalities in decades.

The Courier-Journal reports fewer than 600 fatal crashes had been reported by mid-December. The last time the number was that low was in the 1940s.

The newspaper reports a stricter seat belt law that went into effect in 2006 is credited with playing a major role in the decrease. That year, there were more than 900 fatal wrecks in the state.

Bill Bell, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety, says the rate of decline in Kentucky is still behind the national rate of decline, but “we’re catching up.”

Bell said younger people have grown up wearing seat belts and are a driving force behind the change. The number of fatalities involving younger drivers, between the ages of 16 to 24, has decreased in Kentucky faster than any other demographic, he said.

“We just need to keep concentrating on the younger drivers to keep that momentum going,” he said.

Ben Neal, who has worked for a decade as a Louisville EMS paramedic says he has noticed the decline.

“I can honestly say that after 2006 I have responded to fewer fatal accidents,” Neal said, adding that there are times now when he reaches an accident scene and thinks, “There’s no way someone didn’t die,” but then finds out he is wrong.

“I would attribute it most definitely to seat belts,” he said.

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