Fatal wreck

Highway fatalities in Kentucky increased last year according to preliminary numbers from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's (KYTC) Office of Highway Safety (KOHS). Initial data indicates there were 734 fatalities in 2019, compared to 724 in 2018.

"A single death is one too many," said KYTC Secretary Jim Gray. "And our 2020 Recommended Highway Plan is our commitment to improving highway safety. Through this plan Governor (Andy) Beshear calls for a historic $100 million investment in the Highway Safety Improvement Program and an aggressive move to install more than 100 miles of life-saving guardrail across the commonwealth."

In Madison County, highway fatalities increased from six in 2018 to nine in 2019. There were 10 fatalities in both 2016 and 2017.

So far in 2020, preliminary numbers indicate there have been 56 roadway fatalities, down 17 compared to the same time last year.

While pleased with the current downward trend, KOHS acting director Jason Siwula said KOHS is increasing efforts to encourage safe driving habits through localized media campaigns and partnerships, like Buckle Up Phone Down, law enforcement blitzes and free-ride sharing promotions during the holidays.

"We must give credit to the drivers who chose to practice safe driving behaviors," Siwula said. "We pledge to do our part, but it will take everyone -- all citizens of Kentucky -- to reach our goal of zero deaths on our roadways."

The fatality figures will remain preliminary until all highway crash data is collected. A final report will be released in April.

Jonathan Greene is the editor of The Register; follow him on Twitter @jgreeneRR.

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