Kentucky’s roadways are headed down a dangerous path for motorists. Fatal crash rates have risen significantly over the past few years; in 2015, the total number of people killed in car accidents on the state’s roads was 761, compared to 672 in 2014 and 638 in 2013.
For 2016, the statistics are looking even worse. As of May 10th, 239 people have died, compared to 222 and 198 for the same periods in 2015 and 2014, respectively.
The state’s overall vehicle accident death rate is higher than the national average and also has seen an upward trend in recent years. In 2013, the death rate per 100 million miles traveled stood at 1.36 in Kentucky versus 1.18 nationally. In 2014, Kentucky’s rate rose to 1.40 deaths per million miles traveled, while the U.S. rate remained steady.
In Jefferson County, a number of roadways and intersections were the sites of multiple accidents with injuries in 2015.
The total numbers of wrecks with injuries is just one way of measuring the level of danger presented by roads and intersections. Another way of viewing the data is by the number of people killed.
Multiple roadways and intersections in Louisville were the sites of crashes that injured between one and three people in 2015. At two intersections — Broadway and 26th, and 12th and Oak — four or more people were injured during the year. Two roadways — Broadway near Mile 0, and Interstate 65 near Mile 137 — also were the sites of four or more injuries.
Several roadways were the sites of wrecks that caused multiple injuries or fatalities; for example, on Cane Run between Donald and Clarinet, 23 people were injured in one accident in February 2015. In March 2015, a single-vehicle collided with a train on Buechel Ave killed three and injured one person.
The Kentucky Transportation Center at the University of Kentucky notes that the overall fatal crash rate in the state increased by 2.5 percent in 2014 over the average rate for the previous four years. The injury crash rate for 2014 increased by even more: 10.6 percent. But the center also found in an analysis of crash data that the injury and fatality rates varied significantly by the type of roadway.
One-lane portions of highways — which often ran for only short distances — showed the highest rate of all types of crashes. Undivided, two- and four-lane highways also had high crash rates. The fatal crash rate on two-lane highways was substantially higher than on other types of roads.
The lowest crash rates — with and without injuries and fatalities — occurred on parkways and interstates. Parkways showed the lowest rate of fatal crashes, and the rate on urban highways was just 35 percent of the rate for highways in rural areas. The lower rate is attributable to higher traffic volumes and slower speeds that often prevail in urban areas.
Driver inattention is the top cause of most accidents and near-accidents, research indicates. In almost 80 percent of all accidents — and 65 percent of near-accidents — a driver is inattentive in some way within three seconds of the incident. Inattention includes using a cell phone and especially texting, but it also includes activities like conversing with passengers, changing a radio station, or eating.
Kentucky data indicates that in 2015, distracted driving played a role in more than 58,000 crashes, which resulted in 182 deaths and more than 15,000 injuries — 24 percent of all fatal crashes and 43 percent of total crashes that happened on Kentucky’s roads.
The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety offers tips for managing distractions while driving:
If you or a loved one have been injured in Louisville, it’s important to work with an attorney who is experienced in litigating motor vehicle accidents. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, including the costs of your medical treatment, lost time from work and other expenses. To schedule a free case review and consultation, please contact Meinhart, Smith, & Manning, PLLC.