The number of people killed in car accidents in Kentucky has risen for four consecutive years, pending the final statistics for 2022. In 2021, 806 road users in the Bluegrass State lost their lives in 734 fatal accidents. In 2020, 780 lives were lost in 704 deadly crashes. Accident injuries also increased from 28,421 in 19,322 accidents in 2020 to 29,372 in 20,117 accidents in 2021. To put those figures in perspective, Kentucky has a population of a little over 4.5 million and about 3.4 million licensed drivers. That means one out of every 22 licensed drivers in the state was involved in a traffic accident in 2021, and one out of every 150 state residents was injured in a crash.
Alcohol and drugs
The impaired driving traffic accident statistics are even more worrying. More than half of the people killed on Kentucky roads in 2021 were impaired by either alcohol or drugs when they crashed. According to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, 165 of the drivers killed in 2021 were under the influence of alcohol when they died, and 302 were impaired by either illegal or prescription drugs.
Almost 40% of the deadly motor vehicle wrecks in Kentucky in 2021 involved collisions between moving vehicles, and a quarter involved vehicles striking a stationary object like a tree or lamp post. There were also 1,363 hit-and-run accidents in Kentucky in 2021. The 39 hit-and-run fatalities included 17 pedestrians and three cyclists.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s annual traffic accident report makes for grim reading. Cars have more safety features than ever before, and millions have been spent on improving the state’s roads, but the 2021 death toll was the highest since 2016. Particularly worrying is the number of crashes caused by drivers under the influence of drugs. Police officers can us breath-testing devices during a traffic stop to find out if a motorist has consumed alcohol, but they have no equipment that can reliably detect drug use.