Kentucky to crack down on AA Highway speeders

By David E. Malloy
The Herald-Dispatch

GREENUP, Ky. — The AA highway connection the Ashland area to the Cincinnati area will be the focus of an enforcement blitz by the Kentucky State Police and other traffic enforcement agencies from Aug. 12-18.

The goal of the Drive Smart Kentucky enforcement blitz is to drive down the fatality race, reduce impaired drive and increasing seat belt use along with enforcing speed limits, according to a news release from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

“The Transportation Cabinet’s first priority is to ensure the safety of the traveling public,” Bill Nighbert, transportation secretary, said in a prepared release. “It is important that we work to reduce the number of serious injury and fatality crashes” in Kentucky.

Joe Fitzgerald, a Wurtland, Ky., area resident who traveled the AA highway last week, supports the enforcement effort. “There have been a lot of wrecks along the AA,” he said.

“It’s not necessarily speed,” he said. The road changes from two to three lane traffic at numerous spots along the highway, Fitzgerald said. “It’s foggy early in the morning and the interchanges aren’t well lit. There’s a lot of deer along the road, too.”

Steve Burton, of the Ashland based Tri-State Building and Trades Council which represents thousands of construction workers in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia, makes at least one trip a month along the AA Highway and received a speeding ticket on the road several years ago.

“If it will help save lives, I’m for it,” Burton said of the upcoming traffic enforcement effort. “I’m glad to see it. You have to be cautious and pay attention along that highway.”

Burton said he uses the road to head to a jobsite for Dayton Power and Light.

The enforcement efforts along the AA Highway is concentrated in Campbell, Pendleton, Bracken, Mason, Lewis, Carter and Greenup counties. Operation Drive Smart radar units are being placed along the highway this week to heighten enforcement efforts, according to the news release.

Kentucky State Police, Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement and several local agencies will target various violation including speeding, improper passing, driver inattention, equipment and insurance violations, child restraint and seat belt use.

Recent surveys show that seat belt use along the highway fell in all but two counties from 2004 to 2005, according to the press release. Seat belt use in Greenup County fell by 5 percent, according to traffic surveys.

“The primary seat belt law is the single most important tool we have to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on our highways,” Nighbert said. “Statistics prove that accident victims who are securely buckled in their vehicles are less likely to suffer serious injuries and death.”

Kentucky changed its seat belt law in July, allowing law enforcement to stop a motorist solely for not wearing a seat belt.