Kentucky sees rise in deadly crashes involving distracted drivers

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s most recent report, more than 3,500 people nationwide were killed by distracted drivers.
Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 2:25 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Ky. (WKYT) - April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s most recent report, in 2021, more than 3,500 people nationwide were killed in car crashes that involved distracted drivers.

AAA says distracted driving is one of the fastest-growing safety issues on America’s roads.

“If you get behind that wheel driving somewhere, that’s where your focus needs to be,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, AAA Bluegrass. “It’s actually just as dangerous to be distracted while you’re driving as it is to drive impaired by drugs or alcohol.”

Weaver Hawkins says AAA is really pushing their ‘Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated’ campaign.

“It is wonderful timing because people are thinking about those road trips for the spring and summer,” said Weaver Hawkins.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports Kentucky had 120 fatal collisions involving distracted drivers in 2021. That’s more than 30% higher than in 2020 when there were 91.

Weaver Hawkins says distracted driving isn’t only an issue with teen drivers, and that a phone is far from the only type of distraction.

“Set your navigation system before you head out. Make sure you have your music set the way you want it before you head out,” Weaver Hawkins said. “We want to make any distraction behind the wheel just as socially unacceptable as drinking while driving.”

The Richmond Police Department says they are working to combat distracted driving. Starting in May, they’ll have six traffic safety checkpoints around town.

“It’s our duty to intervene in those situations and stop that person from traveling beyond that point,” said Chief Rodney Richardson, Richmond Police Department.

Chief Richardson says they’ll be looking for all types of impaired driving. The spots chosen for the checkpoints see a high number of collisions.

“Just to kind of remind them that, ‘hey, we’re out here. We want you guys to be safe and want you to follow all of the traffic rules,’” said Chief Richardson.

AAA says it’s also important to note that they believe distracted driving incidents are grossly underreported because it’s hard for the police to prove.

Here is the list of all the checkpoint locations:

  • Eastern Bypass (KY 876) on or near Lancaster Ave./Rd. (KY 52).
  • Lancaster Ave./Rd. (KY 52) on or near Eastern Bypass (KY 876)
  • Eastern Bypass (KY 876) on or near I-75 (Exit 87 overpass bridge)
  • Daniel Ellis Memorial Highway (BUS 25) between Windsor Drive and Robert R. Martin (US 25)/Lexington Rd.
  • Berea Road (US 25 South) between Center Drive and Bay View Drive
  • Eastern Bypass (KY 876) between Gibson Bay Drive and Greathouse Drive