This is a busy time of year for Floyd County residents, with school in session and sports in full swing, not to mention a slew of activities and events planned at schools, fire departments and in other areas throughout the county.
In addition to all of that, Floyd Countians can expect to see plenty of trick-or-treaters out and about this month, as well as other events throughout the fall and winter that will bring families onto our sidewalks and crossing our streets.
The uptick in the number of folks who are out on our roadways this time of year is one of the reasons why we wanted to raise awareness about distracted driving this month. But, more importantly, we want to ring that bell because we absolutely do not want to reach 21.
As of Oct. 15, 588 people have died in car crashes this year, according to the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety. That number represents 18 more deaths than were reported in 2018.
Think about that for a second.
Nearly 600 people have died in Kentucky crashes since January. It’s too many.
In the Big Sandy region — Floyd, Pike, Johnson, Martin and Magoffin counties — 20 people have died in crashes this year, the agency reports online. In the monthly report, the agency doesn’t detail who those people were, but we can rest assured knowing that each and every one of them was loved by someone who now wishes they were here.
If you think that those numbers are grim, think about this as well: Over the past three years in Kentucky, there have been more than 42,000 crashes that involved teenagers, the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety reports, and those crashes caused 162 deaths and 12,000 injuries.
Recently, a Kentucky legislator announced the filing of a bill that would ban all drivers from using mobile phones, tablets, laptop computers and other communication devices while driving. Voice activated devices would be permitted, if the bill is approved as proposed, but the use of any other phone or device while driving would be illegal.
The current state law bans drivers from texting while a vehicle is in motion, but this bill, if passed, would make it illegal to hold a phone while driving. It’s easy to get distracted in today’s world, especially with all the technology we’re lucky to have at our fingertips. But, folks, it’s just not worth it, especially while you’re driving.
It’s better to be safe than sorry. Turn those phones off when you pick up the keys and focus on your first priority behind the wheel: Getting to where you need to go safely.
“Driver distraction is the leading factor in most crashes,” the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety said in a press release. “Talking or texting on cell phones, talking to passengers, adjusting radio and climate controls in the vehicle and eating or drinking while driving are all examples of distractions. Additionally, headphones are not safe to wear while driving, as they can distract a driver from hearing sirens, horns or other important sounds.”