The Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Award
The Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Awards recognize notable achievements in the field of highway safety during the prior calendar year by individuals, coalitions, organizations, nonprofit groups, businesses, government agencies, universities or programs. About Peter K. O'Rourke
2007 Winner: Kentucky Governor Ernest L. Fletcher
Kentucky Governor Ernest L. Fletcher
In 2005, Kentucky experienced the most fatalities on its highways since 1973. Governor Ernie Fletcher responded to this tragedy by making highway safety one his highest priorities. Under his leadership, the Commonwealth has made great strides in improving the lives of all Kentuckians with stronger highway safety measures.
Governor Fletcher worked with the state legislature to pass Kentucky's primary seat belt law in 2006. In 2005, 71 percent of the people killed on Kentucky roadways were not wearing seat belts. By the end of 2006, the Commonwealth experienced 72 fewer fatalities than in 2005. The law is expected to save at least 62 lives each year.
Teen drivers are only 6 percent of the state's driving population, yet they account for 18 percent of all fatal crashes in Kentucky. Thanks to the new Graduated Drivers License (GDL) legislation supported by Governor Fletcher and signed into law in October, teen drivers must now complete an intermediate period of six month between the learner's permit and full license stage. During this phase, teens are restricted from driving between midnight and 6:00 a.m. and may have no more than one unrelated passenger under the age of twenty. The new law is expected to save 27 teenagers this year.
A third bill also endorsed by Governor Fletcher is a "quick clearance" law. This new law allows for crash sites to be quickly cleared from the highway, decreasing the risk of secondary accidents, which account for an estimated 20 percent of all accidents nationwide. The law codifies incident management procedures for quick clearance and addresses motorist and first responder safety while preventing traffic congestion along interstates and parkways.
In addition to his legislative accomplishments, Governor Fletcher also established the Governor's Executive Committee on Highway Safety to address his concern about the fatal collisions on Kentucky's roadways. This committee represents a diverse group of partnerships including the Kentucky State Police, Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement, Kentucky Chiefs of Police Association, Kentucky Motor Transport Association, Board of Emergency Medical Services, University of Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Program, and many other state and national organizations.
The Governor's Committee has developed "Kentucky's Roadmap to Safer Highways," a strategic plan that will increase coordination, communication and cooperation among state, federal and local agencies, nonprofits and other highway safety advocates. The plan's goal is to reduce the number of highway fatalities to no more than 700 by December 31, 2008. To implement the plan, Governor Fletcher created a Department of Highway Safety within the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and consolidated most of the highway safety functions of the state.
For more information about Governor Fletcher's contribution to highway safety in Kentucky, contact Tim Hazlette, Commissioner of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, at firstname.lastname@example.org.