Category Archives: Frankfort Focus

FRANKFORT – One of our country’s great success stories over the past 50 years is the steep decline in deadly auto accidents.  Highway fatalities that exceeded 50,000 a year in the early 1970s have since dropped below 40,000, even with significant growth in the number of drivers on the road.

Kentucky has taken full advantage of this welcome trend.  In fact, 2013’s total was the lowest we’ve seen in the commonwealth since the late 1940s.

\While we are heading in the right direction overall, there is still much work to be done.  In October, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) underscored the challenges ahead when it released a comprehensive report on 2017’s fatal motor-vehicle crashes.

The good news is that this number went down about two percent nationally last year, but that came after two straight years of steep increases: 8.4 percent in 2015 and 6.5 percent in 2016.  The hope is that we’re again moving toward the lower numbers our country saw between five and 10 years ago.

\Another silver lining from 2017 is that the percentage of fatalities due to drunk driving was the lowest since 1982, when NHTSA began compiling this statistic.  Kentucky’s efforts to reduce alcohol-related deaths on our highways are showing especially positive results, with only four states having a lower rate.

Here in the commonwealth, the Kentucky State Police is the agency that has historically taken a comprehensive look at all of our highway accidents, which last year exceeded 112,000, or more than 300 a day.

The latest report further confirms some things don’t change from year to year.  Males are about twice as likely to die in a fatal crash as females, for example, and more accidents happen in urban areas while rural areas are home to more fatalities.  Seatbelt use has held fairly constant – nearly nine out of 10 buckle up now – while a little more than a third riding on a motorcycle still choose not to wear a helmet.

The KSP report also gets quite specific in its data analysis.  Because of that, we know that Friday was the day and May the month when the most traffic accidents happened in 2017, but Thursday and October were our deadliest day and month on the road.

Although it is impossible to put a dollar figure on loss of life, the KSP report does calculate the economic and social costs associated with all of our traffic accidents, from fender benders to those in which a person was killed.  In 2016, the most recent year available, that comprehensive figure exceeded $18 billion.

Over the years, the General Assembly and our state and local law enforcement have worked well together to make our highways safer.  That includes establishing much longer periods for teens to obtain a driver’s license; banning texting while driving; increasing height requirements for children riding in booster seats; and cracking down on those with multiple DUIs.

It may not be possible to end traffic accidents entirely, but there is no doubt that lowering them much further remains in our grasp.  Thankfully, the steady rise of automated safety features in our vehicles, more data-driven law enforcement and improved infrastructure are helping to lead the way.

A little extra precaution on our part, especially as we prepare for another season of winter weather, is important as well.  The few additional minutes we take to reach our destination may be the very thing that keeps us from becoming a statistic in the next KSP traffic report.

As always, I encourage you to let me know your thoughts or concerns about this or any other issue facing Kentucky.  My email is Rick.Rand@lrc.ky.gov, while the General Assembly’s toll-free message line is 800-372-7181.  For those with a hearing impairment, it is 800-896-0305.

FRANKFORT – Earlier this fall, the University of Kentucky officially opened a new research facility designed to do one thing: Find new ways to defeat the diseases that take far too many of our loved ones. The $265 million that built it came from a mixture of state and university funds and private donations, and it… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – When it comes to the history of Thanksgiving, there is a gap between what most of us were taught in school and what actually happened. It’s true that the most famous of these feasts did indeed occur nearly 400 years ago, when the Pilgrims and the Native Americans who helped them gathered for a… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – Children have always been a primary focus for legislators and other state leaders, but there has been a renewed effort in recent months to see how we can further improve their lives, especially those facing the toughest challenges. Through most of last year, for example, the state House had a bipartisan task force looking for… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – Veterans Day is always a special time to recognize and honor those men and women who have served our country, but this year’s holiday is particularly noteworthy because it falls on the 100th anniversary of the event that inspired it: the armistice that effectively ended World War I. Although the official conclusion of that conflict… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – Presidential election years may draw the most voters, but here in Kentucky, the mid-term election cycle is the one that features the most candidates.  All told, there are nearly 7,500 people running for office this November at the local, state and federal level. That’s quite a bit more than Kentucky had during its first election. … Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – Each October, the Cabinet for Economic Development highlights an industry that can be summed up in three words: Made in Kentucky. It’s a phrase that can be applied to more and more products every year.  The Cabinet says there are now 4,500 manufacturing facilities across the commonwealth, and they employ 256,000 people.  That’s about 13… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – With fall finally feeling like it has arrived, farmers across the country are in full swing as they wind down another growing season.  Although we are surrounded by farmland, we may sometimes forget that, as a profession, farmers are an elite group. In 1880, two-thirds of Kentucky’s workforce could be found on a farm, and… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT –   For much of our country’s history, domestic violence was an often hidden crime, with victims hesitant to report abuse and government ill-equipped to provide the services and protection they deserved. Things thankfully began to change for the better in the late 1960s, and here in Kentucky, we took a major step forward in 1971, when our first… Continue Reading

FRANKFORT – When the FBI released its latest annual report last week on crime in our country, Kentucky once again got great news when the numbers showed that all but a handful of states were more violent in 2017. When compared to most of our surrounding and fellow southern states, the figures aren’t even close.  Our… Continue Reading

Paid for by Rick Rand for State Representative, Regina Rand, Treasurer