High Five Rural Traffic Safety Project

Introduction and Overview

High Five Logo

The High Five Rural Traffic Safety Seat Belt Program is a new demonstration program to Kentucky starting in 2022. It is funded through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and facilitated by the Preusser Research Group (PRG). The program will be funded for the 2023 Federal Fiscal Year (October 1,2022 through September 30,2023).

The inspirational program was created in Iowa. It specifically focused on improving seatbelt usage in rural areas. Each round, 5 counties were selected for the program.

For the demonstration program, the NHTSA and the PRG reached out to the states and have partnered with Arkansas and Kentucky. Click here or scroll down the page to see what made Kentucky a good candidate.

The data is driving this approach to preventing injuries and fatalities.

  • Fatality Rate per miles driven for Kentucky versus the Nation - see the numbers
  • Fatality Rate per miles driven is higher in Rural areas - see the numbers

Iowa looked further into their numbers and specifically identified their secondary rural roadways as the locations to focus their efforts.

For the first year of the program, the NHTSA and the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) are coordinating with local partners in 5 counties:

  • Bourbon County
  • Grayson County
  • Knott County
  • Madison County
  • Perry County

Why Kentucky

The High Five Project in Iowa focused on rural roadways. For doing the evaluation selection, the NHTSA and the PRG looked for states where that program might fit. Following are some statistics about Kentucky in general that speak towards its selection.

Length of Public Road System - 26th

Kentucky ranks 26th among states (plus DC) for length of its public road system (source: FHWA Highway Statistic Series 2020)

Kentucky has approximately 80,000 miles of public roadway. Approximately 81% (~65k) of that is Rural roadway.

The Volume of traffic on Kentucky roadways is approximately 127,000,000 miles driven daily. Approximately 54% (~69M) is on rural roadways.

Kentucky has approximately 130,000 collisions a year. Approximately 63% of those occurred in urban areas, but 52% of those occurred on rural roadways.

Selection of Counties

The KOHS took the prioritization process from their Highway Safety Plan and modified it to incorporate additional parameters specific to the High Five Rural Traffic Safety Project. The project tries to look specifically at rural areas. The model project in Iowa focused on "Secondary Rural Roadways".

Kentucky looked at the roadway classifications for the Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) and the Urban Area type associated with the routes in each county.

The data is presented via a Microsoft PowerBI dashboard - viewable here.

The High Five Rural Traffic Safety Advisory Board asked the KOHS Law Enforcement Liasons to guide them towards likely candidate counties.

Project Activities

The High Five concept involves many different activities for assessing the current state of the area and diagnosing solutions and enabling change:

  • community outreach
    • cards at local gathering places (businesses, festivals, restraurants, etc.)
    • cards at traffic safety checkpoints
    • posters at local gathering places (businesses, festivals, restraurants, etc.)
  • educational programs at all high schools in the county
  • observational seat belt surveys
    • before activites being
    • after some activites have occured
    • to measure the impact
  • assessments of the roadways - commonly referred to as Road Safety Audits
  • via the help of the Kentucky Safety Circuit Rider Program and local and KYTC resources


Within the selected counties, the KOHS pulled 2017-2021 collision data (5 years). The data was mapped via the GPS coordiates associated with the collisions. The collisions and injuries were summed to identify corrdiors with more injuries and collisions. The maps below show:

  • the county
  • the roads in that county (and adjacent counties)
  • the collision locations
  • the Top 10 road segments for the combined number of fatal, serious, and non-serious injuries
  • the Top 10 road segmetns for the total number of collisions

These maps are desgined for a 24" x 36" plot. They may be readable printed at smaller sizes. The "Layers" pane inside Adobe Acrobat Reader will let you turn data on and off on the maps.


Kentucky Fatalities

Fatalities in Kentucky vary from year to year. The chart below shows the numbers year by year. In 2006, Kentucky passed its primary seat belt law and it went into effect in July of that year (orange bar).

In efforts to remove some of the variability, safety professionals use 5 year rolling averages to visualize larger trends.
Return to Overview

Fatality Rate per 100 MVM for USA Overall versus Rural

Nationally the fatality rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles (MVM) travelled is higher for rural areas.

Sources: multiple publications of NHTSA Rural/Urban Comparison 2019

Return to Overview


Fatality Rate per 100 MVM for Kentucky versus USA

The fatality rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles (MVM) travelled for Kentucky is higher than the national average.

Return to Overview

Seat Belt Usage

Kentucky statewide seat belt usage has increased over the years. In 2006, Kentucky passed its primary seat belt law and it went into effect in July of that year. The Commonwealth is now near the national average.

Return to Overview
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