Safe drivers have dramatic impact;
lower insurance rates possible
Traffic crashes in Pike County hit all-time low
PIKEVILLE – Thursday, February 21, 2013 – Pike County’s roads are safer today than they have been in at least five years, according to Bill Bell, Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety.
Bell attended a meeting of the Pike County Highway Safety Team, held Thursday morning at Highway District 12 in Pikeville. He came to share the news that Pike County is no longer number one in the state in overall highway safety concerns.
Just a few years ago, in 2010, Pike was the worst in the state when certain factors were considered: number of crashes, fatal crashes, injury crashes, low seat belt use by drivers and passengers, and lack of proper child restraint in vehicles.
During 2012, Pike County fell to sixth place, an amazing feat, according to Bell. “We haven’t seen this kind of improvement since we started ranking Kentucky’s counties. The figures don’t lie. A huge number of Pike County drivers have decided that they’ve had enough. They want their roads to be safe and they are willing to change their behavior to make that happen.”
The county’s place in overall concerns is not the only area of improvement. Bell notified the team that the total number of highway crashes in Pike County fell in 2012 by 10.3% compared with 2011. “Ten percent may not sound like much,” he said, “but what that means in raw numbers is that there were 198 fewer traffic wrecks in 2012 than in 2011. That is huge.” The monthly crash rate fell, too, from 164 during the 2008-2011 period to 144 in 2012.
Bell praised members of the Pike County Highway Safety Team, comprised of highway engineers, law enforcement officers, elected officials, safety educators, first responders, and citizens, all of whom make highway safety a priority in their jobs and lifestyles. “You are the experts on highway safety in Pike County. Most of you have worked for years trying to figure out how to stop the upward spiral of death and injury on the roads in these beautiful mountains,” Bell said, “laboring in isolation, taken for granted, not even aware of each other’s programs, events, and efforts.”
Bell thinks the turning point was when people came together and started sharing the load. “When we work in isolation, unaware of what others are doing toward the same goal, the impact is sporadic and much less than it could be. When these individual efforts benefit from a collective sharing of ideas and resources, there is a huge positive difference in the results, as we now know.”
The key, the main difference between Pike and every other county in the state, according to Bell, is Drive Down.
“East Kentucky Broadcasting’s Drive Down initiative brings the message to everyone in ways that no individual effort can achieve. This is a huge investment by the radio stations of EKB. We have not seen this total community effort anywhere else in the state, and you have barely begun. By the end of 2011, Drive Down was barely eight months old. If such a collaborative can affect driving behavior this much in such a short time, think what you can do from this point forward.”
Speaking on behalf of EKB, Walt May, program director, renewed the company’s commitment. “This is a quality of life issue, not just a safety issue,” he said. “We just want to do our part to help.”
Individuals and agencies which make up the Pike County Highway Safety Team include:
· Highway District 12
· Belfry Volunteer Fire Department
· Coal Run Village, Kentucky State Police
· City of Pikeville, Pikeville Police Department
· Pikeville Fire Department
· Pike County Sheriff’s Office
· Pike County Attorney H. Keith Hall
· Pike Commonwealth Attorney Rick Bartley
· Pike County Health Department
· Big Sandy Area Development District
· Blackberry Volunteer Fire Department
· Shelby Valley Rescue Squad
· Pike Fiscal Court
· University of Pikeville
· Pike County Schools
· State Rep. Leslie Combs
· State Senator Ray S. Jones
· State Rep. W. Keith Hall
· Summit Engineering
· Big Creek Volunteer Fire Department
· Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center
· East Kentucky Broadcasting.
Meetings and membership are open to any person who is concerned about highway safety in Pike County. If you are interested, contact Sara George, Information Officer, Highway District 12, at 606-433-7791.
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