Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

September 9, 2013

'Drive Down'

Traffic deaths drop sharply after campaign is launched

The Independent

ASHLAND — The best testament to the success of the “Drive Down” program aimed at reducing the number of traffic deaths in Pike County is one statistic: Since the grassroots education initiative was launched in April 2012, the number of traffic fatalities in the mountainous county that is Kentucky’s largest in area has dropped by nearly 23 percent.

While we are confident that other factors besides the “Drive Down” program helped reduce the traffic death toll in Pike County, the safety program surely had enough of a positive impact to more than justify its continuation. It also is why the program received special achievement recognition at the recent Governors Highway Safety Association awards event in San Diego.

The safety program was created by local leaders in Pike County because the county consistently ranked among the state’s top three counties for property damage, serious injuries and fatal crashes in vehicle accidents.

The program focused on the importance of using proper restraints in vehicles. There is nothing new about that. National, state and local traffic safety campaigns for years have stressed the importance of safety belts and child restraint seats in reducing deaths and injuries in accidents. And those campaigns have had the desired impact. Seat built use has more than tripled in the state in the last 30 years, and not surprisingly the number of traffic deaths also has declined.  However, rural counties like Pike consistently have among the state’s highest  percentage of vehicle drivers and passengers who are not buckled up. If the “Drive Down” program has helped increase seat belt use in Pike County then it has indeed saved lives.

“Buckle up.” “Click it or ticket.” Those are both familiar phrases to get more people to use their seat beats. As long as many as one in four drivers in some rural Kentucky counties continue to sit on their seat belts, it cannot be said too often. 

We congratulate Pike County on its award for “Drive Down.” The statistics say the program is working, and statistics don’t lie.