Local police launch traffic safety project

HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) – Kentucky Transportation Cabinet research shows over 10% of Kentuckians getting behind the wheel are not wearing a seat belt.

Those numbers have led to scary consequences, especially in Perry County.

“Year after year, Perry County has ranked at the top in Kentucky per capita for unbelted deaths,” Kentucky State Police Trooper Matt Gayheart said. “This is something we must change.”

The numbers only increase on rural roads, where 65% of deaths occurred in 2021. Perry County Sheriff Joe Engle says this has only grown since he took office.

“That year alone, we had in Perry County, 20 traffic fatalities, and I think every one of those was unbelted,” Engle said.

In response, law enforcement officials are launching the “High Five Rural Traffic Safety Project” with an educating purpose.

“It’s imperative that we educate our motoring public on the importance of buckling up each and every time they get into a vehicle,” Trooper Matt Gayheart said.

That can be anything from programs to routine traffic stops.

“Nobody likes getting pulled over by a law enforcement officer. That’s no surprise. This program is gonna allow us during every traffic stop to have an opportunity to educate and interact with members of this community,” Gayheart said.

Possible programs also include educating children before they get behind the wheel on an every day basis.

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