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May 9, 2012

Passing Other Cars in Kentucky can be Dangerous

It can be frustrating, being stuck behind someone driving slower than you want to go, especially if they are going below the speed limit or you are running late. If this occurs on a road with four lanes or more, it may seem fairly easy to move to the left lane and pass the person. Passing on a two-lane road is inherently more challenging. But both scenarios can be dangerous, as two Kentucky drivers discovered recently.

On Saturday, May 5, 2012, two teens were driving on U.S. 68, which is a two-lane road, near Campbellsville, Kentucky. The driver decided to pass the car ahead of them and pulled into the left-hand lane. Unfortunately, a car was coming from the other direction and the two collided head-on, resulting in a deadly car accident. Both cars rolled over and the teens tragically lost their lives. The driver of the other vehicle was taken to the hospital with injuries and was released the next day.

In another accident on Sunday of the same weekend, a driver again attempted to pass the car in front of him. This time the accident occurred on KY 213 in Morehead, Kentucky. When the passing car moved back into the lane in front of the other car, it clipped the front bumper. Both drivers appear to have lost control, and this car wreck injured all three people in the cars, including one critically.

These two accidents highlight the importance of using caution when passing other cars. Teendriving.com, a website started by a teen driver who was concerned about the number of accidents involving his classmates, provides the following tips about passing to drivers:

Don't Pass:


  • When there is a solid yellow line on your side

  • When you're uncertain there is enough time or space

  • When you can't see around a curve or over a hill

  • When behind multiple cars and passing one car doesn't really make any difference

  • On two lane roads, don't pass tractors or trucks or others you can't see around

  • In hazardous weather conditions

  • When another car is coming toward you in the opposite lane

  • When a car is passing you

  • When there is construction or road work

  • When the car in front of you is going the maximum speed limit

  • When on narrow roads, on bridges, or in tunnels

  • When you are unfamiliar with the car you are driving and its capabilities

  • Don't play leap frog by passing a friend that just passed you


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October 18, 2011

Trucking and Driving Safely on Kentucky Roads

232052_semi-truck_2.jpgA recent report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) regarding the truck accident in which 11 people were killed brings to light again the safety issues of truck drivers and those around them. The recommendations in the NTSB report and other changes will hopefully make the roads safer for all drivers.

After a March 2010 collision in Kentucky killed a truck driver and 10 passengers in a van, NTSB began a thorough investigation of the accident. Almost 18 months later, the board concluded the accident occurred because the truck driver was distracted by his cell phone when he crossed the median and hit the passenger van. The recommendation that all commercial drivers be prohibited from using a cell phone, regardless of whether it is handheld or hands-free, while operating a vehicle, was sent to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Current rules already ban texting for commercial drivers, and a ban for handheld cell phone use for commercial drivers is expected to be ruled on this fall. The rule currently under consideration does not include hands-free calls, which may be just as distracting and dangerous as handheld calls.

Several other changes have been implemented or are being considered to help keep drivers in and around trucks safer on the road. In 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) added new regulations to make the driver of the truck more liable for both the operation and maintenance of the truck. Just as commercial carriers are graded, commercial drivers will be graded on factors including their driving abilities, accident records, and vehicle maintenance. For example, if the truck the driver is operating fails an inspection, or if the driver is involved in an accident or found to be fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it will be reflected on the driver's record. Too many negative reports can cause the truck driver's license to be suspended, effectively removing him from the roadways.

Some safety changes do not directly involve Kentucky truck or car drivers, but rather the road itself. Crossover barriers installed between highway lanes can help to stop vehicles from crossing over into oncoming traffic and causing deadly head-on collisions. These barriers do not always help, as was evidenced in the March 2010 accident mentioned above - the semi drove right through the steel cable barriers into oncoming traffic. But they have helped in other situations, and stronger types of barriers are being considered. The widening of Kentucky highways as traffic increases also makes the roadways safer for all drivers.

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October 13, 2011

Kentucky Road Fatalities Decline as Accidents Increase

Traffic accidents have increased in Kentucky in 2011, even by as much as 27 percent in some counties. Reasons for this increase could include large construction projects or more distracted drivers. Fortunately, the number of people killed in Kentucky car and truck accidents has decreased this year, as it has in the last five years. As of October 10, 2011, 549 people have been killed on the road in Kentucky, about 7.7 percent fewer than last year at this time. Although this is a positive trend, Bill Bell, director for the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety says, "The problem is people still are dying on the highways, and that's unacceptable."

So how is the number of traffic deaths decreasing while the number of accidents increases? Mr. Bell thinks the installation of cable barriers between the roadways is a big factor. These barriers keep cars and trucks from crossing over into oncoming traffic, eliminating deadly head-on crashes. Having more police cruisers parked in construction zones also appears to help by slowing down motorists through these areas that can be more congested and confusing with constantly changing barrels, cones and signs.

Individuals can make changes to their driving habits to help reduce the number of accidents and fatalities on the road. One of the most important aspects of safe driving is being focused on the road and the other drivers rather than being distracted. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says cell-phone users are four times as likely to be involved in an accident. Cell phones should not be used for texting or making phone calls unless the vehicle is pulled over and stopped in a safe location. Do not attend to pets or young children in the back seat until the car is stopped as well. Loud music and rowdy passengers can be distracting, especially for teens. Keep the volume down in the vehicle.

Eating, drinking, shaving, and applying makeup are all driving distractions.
Although this should be common knowledge, it bears repeating. Do not drive any vehicle while sleep-deprived or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These conditions not only hinder the driver's ability to control the car, but they also make the driver less aware of his surroundings and less able to react in a potentially unsafe situation.

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October 2, 2009

Louisville Bicyclist Dies From Injuries Suffered In Accident with Truck

The Courier Journal reported that a bicyclist was killed after he was hit by a truck. The accident occurred on Poplar Level Road near Bishop Lane on October 1, 2009. The bicyclist was pronounced dead at the scene as he suffered severe head injuries.

Accidents like the one that occurred on Poplar Level Road are extremely unfortunate but common. 1932 was the first year bicycle accidents were recorded and since then more than 51,000 bicyclists have died in traffic accidents. You can take precautions to ensure that you are not injured in a similar accident.

Wearing a helmet while riding your bike is the best way to protect yourself from head injuries. In addition, while riding your bike remember that you are expected to obey traffic laws just as any motor vehicle must. Bicyclists should always travel with traffic, never against it. Finally, wearing fluorescent or bright colors will help motorists see you while you ride your bike. For additional safety tips please see the National Highway and Traffic Administration's website.

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September 25, 2009

Wet Road Conditions Cause Several Car Accidents in Louisville

Driving in the rain can be very dangerous. For example, during rush hour on the rainy morning of Friday, September 25, there were numerous accidents reported. At least four of those accidents resulted in injuries. Most of these accidents were caused because motorists were driving too fast in the slick conditions.

stock_rainy_roads.jpg

Wet roads are particularly dangerous because water brings dirt and oil set in the pavement up to the surface. The combination of oil, dirt, and water make the roads slick and tires have a harder time getting traction. The most effective way to ensure safety on wet roads is to drive slower. Slowing down allows more of your tire to grip the roadway and increases your traction. Avoiding sudden stopping and turning will also ensure you get the best traction possible.

Wet roadways also increases the chance that you may hydroplane on the road. Hydroplaning is when your tires skid across the water surface on the road causing you to lose control of your vehicle. Driving slowly can reduce your risk of hydroplaning.

Unfortunately, many drivers on Kentucky and Indiana roadways do not practice safe driving in wet conditions and accidents result.

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September 14, 2009

Fatal Trucking Accident Closes Interstate I-71

At about 10:00 A.M. on Monday, September 14, 2009, a tow truck ran off of the road on I-71 and crashed into a stone wall. The southbound lanes of the interstate were closed for several hours. Sadly, the driver of the tow truck, which was hauling two cars, was killed in the accident.

Although there have been no reports as to what caused this particular accident, it is important that commercial drivers take precautions when driving to ensure that you arrive at your destination safely. Proper rest is important for any job, but especially for a trucker. Driving long distances can be exhausting to your body so truck drivers need to take care of yourself by eating well, taking breaks, and getting enough rest.

It is also important for drivers to keep their distance from other vehicles, especially commerical trucks, and to be aware of a commercial truck's blind spots. Approximately 33% of all accidents between cars and commercial vehicles take place in the blind spot. In addition, and as with any vehicle, always wear your seatbelt. A seatbelt can save your life and prevent you from being thrown from a vehicle if an accident does occur.

For more information on truck safety please visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's website.

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September 3, 2009

Motorcyclist Killed in Crash with a Pickup Truck

At about 4:00 p.m. on September 1, 2009, there was an accident involving a pickup truck and a motorcyclist in Henry County, Kentucky. The accident occurred when the driver of the pickup truck crossed the center line and struck an embankment in the road. The impact caused the pickup truck to flip over and spin around, hitting the motorcyclist. The motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet and, sadly, was pronounced dead at the hospital.

motorcycle accident.jpgUnfortunately, while motorcyclists only make up 3% of vehicles on the road, motorcycle accidents make up approximately 11% of highway fatalities each year. For motorcyclists, the risk of serious injury or death from an accident is much greater than for a automobile driver. It is therefore crucial for motorcyclists to take all the necessary precautions to protect themselves from negligent drivers. Practicing safe driving habits, attending motorcycle training classes, and wearing a helmet are just a few ways you can lessen your chances of being involved in and injured in an accident.

Although Kentucky does not require motorcyclist to wear helmets, many states do require helmets to be worn. A helmet can save your life and prevent brain damage in the event of an accident. When buying a helmet, make sure it fits comfortably and always fasten it while you ride. It is also important to be sure that the helmet conforms to Federal standards. And remember, helmets are for passengers too!

For more safety information, please visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration .


March 31, 2009

Kentucky and Indiana Restaurant Playgrounds Create Hidden Dangers

For many parents, the bright and colorful playground at many fast food restaurants all over Kentucky and Indiana can be as alluring if not more alluring than the fast food itself.  However, as an article from MSN points out, there are many potential dangers in these fast food playgrounds that result in serious injury to a child. 

playground.jpgThe Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that emergency rooms treat more than 200,000 children every year for playground-related injuries. These playgrounds found at fast food restaurants like McDonalds and Burger King are referred to as "soft-contained playgrounds."  While the restaurants are the ones that will profit from the playgrounds as they attract customers, restaurants argue that since they hire independent contractors to build the play structures, they are not responsible for their customers' safety.    

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) sets the national standard for soft-contained playgrounds.  However, even if a restaurant complies with these standards, each chain is responsible for self-policing its playground for safety compliance.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sets guidelines and regulations but does not have the staff to enforce its rules.  They have created a Soft-Contained Play Equipment Safety Checklist which parents can use to help determine if playgrounds are safe for their children's use. 

In some cases action has been taken by CPSC against fast food restaurants for safety code violations.  The agency fined McDonald's $4 million in 1999 regarding its soft playgrounds. 

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