May 13, 2021
SENATOR PHILLIP WHEELER: DRIVE WITH REASON THIS SUMMER SEASON
Good news has emerged recently indicating the reopening of Kentucky may be on the horizon. With summer just around the bend and our state and nation working to get back to a sense of something normal, our roadways will be buzzing with vacationers, travelers, and the industries that help the engine of our economy keep plugging. As a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, I want to encourage you and your family to be cautious on roadways this summer as you make your plans.
Less people have traveled over the past fourteen months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Surprisingly however, according to preliminary data from the National Safety Council, over forty two thousand people lost their lives in traffic fatalities, even as the coronavirus shutdown our nation. If accurate, that would be the highest in thirteen years, equating to a twenty-four percent spike, the highest spike in the ninety-six years that the data has been collected. Forty two thousand is an alarming number, and each of these deaths are entirely avoidable.
Causes of fatalities on roadways can differ. The conditions of our roads matter, as does the state of mind of those who travel on them. To take precaution from the various causes of a crash, it is important that we remain mindful of our surrounding on the roadway, and buckle up.
Utilizing all sources of funding available, the Kentucky General Assembly allocated billions of dollars to transportation infrastructure in the 2021 session. You will be seeing hard working Kentucky Transportation Committee (KYTC) workers out working on road and highway projects. Be mindful of their presence on the roadways and be patient with infrastructure projects.
We can avoid unnecessary accidents by making wise decisions. Instead of choosing to drink and drive; think and drive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that twenty-eight people in the U.S. die in drunk driving crashes every day. In 2019, the legislature passed Senate Bill 85, a bill implementing the Kentucky Ignition Interlock Program (KIIP). The bill introduced changes to DUI and interlock laws and made the program available to first time DUI offenders. An Ignition Interlock Device (IID) is a device certified by KYTC, which offenders must applydirectly through, that connects a motor vehicle ignition system or motorcycle ignition system to a breath-alcohol analyzer. The device will not allow a car or motorcycle to start if the breathalyzer exceeds 0.02. State law prohibits anyone with an alcohol concentration level of over 0.08 from operating a vehicle. DUI offenders can forego license suspension by participating in the program.
Additionally the NHTSA reports that over three thousand people died in car crashes in 2019 due to distracted driving, such as texting and driving. The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year, and leads to nearly four hundred thousand injuries. Kentucky law prohibits drivers of all ages to text while driving and it is illegal for anyone under the age of eighteen to use a cell phone in any capacity while operating a vehicle. Parents, according to a poll from AAA, ninety-four percent of teen drivers acknowledged the dangers of texting and driving, but thirty-five percent admitted to doing it anyway. Speak with the young folks in your life about staying safe, and keeping others safe while driving.
Some other things to consider is that some local and state governments have implemented cameras that register the speed of your car, and can issue you a ticket. There are also penalties for not wearing a seatbelt and for not meeting child passenger safety. Take some time to visit transportation.ky.gov/highwaysafety to find information on how to keep the little ones in your life safe.
Soon I will be providing an outline of what is to be expected during the interim session, especially on matters within the scope of legislative committees that I have the pleasure of serving on. Stay tuned for updates.
It is an honor to represent the 31st District in the Kentucky State Senate. Should you have any comments or concerns about this issue or any other public policy issue, please do not hesitate to contact my office. You can reach my office toll-free at 502-564-8100 Ext: 714 or by emailing me at email@example.com. God bless.
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Note: Senator Phillip Wheeler (R-Pikeville) represents Kentucky’s 31st State Senate District, which includes Elliott, Lawrence, Martin, Morgan, and Pike Counties. Senator Wheeler is Vice-Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor. He also serves as a member of the Senate Standing Committees on Transportation, Natural Resources and Energy, Judiciary, and State and Local Government. Additionally, he is a member of the Capital Planning and Bond Oversight Statutory Committee. For a high-resolution .jpeg of Senator Wheeler, please visit: https://legislature.ky.gov/Legislators%20Full%20Res%20Images/senate131.jpg