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LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – In a recent study, a Florida law firm ranked Kentucky the sixth in most dangerous roads in the United States.

The study used data surrounding fatality rates from 2020 to come up with their rankings.

With a road danger rating of 8.71 out of 10, Kentucky trails only New Mexico (8.98), Montana (9.12), South Carolina (9.59), Arkansas (9.59), and Mississippi (9.93).

The study also shows the Bluegrass State ranks tenth in fatality rate per 100,00 people at 17.31.

Despite these facts, Kentucky was ranked in the top-10 (No. 8) in overall road quality.

There are a lot of things competing for a driver’s attention these days outside of the road itself. Although cellphones get the majority of the blame, there are even more things that can be viewed as distractions.

“As vehicles become more and more sophisticated, we’ve got more vehicle technology,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, public affairs manager for AAA Bluegrass. “And while those technologies are there in most reasons to kind of avoid crashes and help you to be safer, they can actually become a distraction.”

Summer travel is expected to see a sizeable uptick after two-plus years of pandemic restrictions. With that, AAA is reminding drivers to keep their guards up, especially for younger drivers.

“The other thing to keep in mind is, now that we are in the summer months, we are in what we refer to as the ‘100 Deadliest Days’ unfortunately,” Hawkins said. “And we see an increase in crashes, particularly without teen drivers.”

With increased overall travel, the warm weather brings an increase in road construction. Kentuckians are encouraged to keep an eye out for cars parked on the side of the road.

“Especially as we go into the summer season, folks do not slow down or move over for people that are working alongside the road,” said Hawkins. “Whether it is one of our roadside assistance people, a law enforcement, emergency, even a stranded motorist. People need to pay attention to that road.”

We reached out to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for a response regarding what the state is trying to do to make roads safer and they responded with the following statement:

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is committed to improving safety and accessibility for all road users. KYTC has a dedicated office, known as the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety, that is laser-focused on efforts to prevent crashes, injuries and deaths on our roadways through multiple approaches, such as infrastructure improvements, behavioral education campaigns and public health partnerships. These strategies are outlined in the state’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan.

Improving highway safety is a shared responsibility that requires partnership at all levels, including the public. KYTC actively works with local, state and federal partners (like the Federal Highway Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) and law enforcement to improve safety.   

Awareness campaigns such as Buckle Up / Phone Down, Walk Safe KY, Bike Safe KY, and Not So Fast KY and high visibility enforcement such as Click it or Ticket and Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over stress the importance of making safe choices when behind the wheel. 

Drivers are key partners in improving highway safety for all road users, and we encourage every driver to practice the following safe behaviors: wear a seat belt, put the phone down, obey posted speed limits, drive sober and watch for vulnerable road users (such as bicyclists and pedestrians).

According to NHTSA, wearing a seat belt gives motorists the best chance of preventing injury or death; however, more than half of those killed in motor vehicles on Kentucky roads last year were not properly buckled up.

The 50% statistic only applies to those killed in vehicles and doesn’t include vulnerable road users such as bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists.

Each Kentucky community is unique and safety improvement efforts can take different forms. KYTC partners with counties and communities to assist with local road safety planning efforts through the Safety Circuit Rider Program and the Highway Safety Improvement Program. 

In rural areas, single-vehicle roadway departure crashes represent a significant challenge, resulting in deaths and serious injuries.  To prevent deaths and serious injuries in these environments, KYTC has worked statewide to improve signing (such as in advance of curves), road striping and provide rumble strips on roadways.  Additionally, the KYTC 2021- 2022 and 2023-2024 budget includes additional funding investments for safety improvements.

Dedicated funding through the bipartisan infrastructure law and discretionary grant application opportunities will infuse more dollars to invest in communities statewide to implement innovative safety solutions in the coming years.