Joining forces to crack down on the fatal four


Reporter - Briana Conner
Photographer - Justin Jones

PADUCAH, Ky. - Drivers are about to see a heavier police presence on local interstates as we head into summer. The weather's warmer, more people are out, and more troopers will be out too, though you may not instantly recognize them. Their goal is to lower the number of traffic deaths in our area to zero, and they're pulling out all the stops to make it happen.     

The U.S. Department of Transportation has released early estimates for traffic deaths between 2011 and 2012. From April to June of 2011, the nation saw 8,216 deadly crashes. During that same time span in 2012, that number jumped to 8,650. That is more than a five percent increase.

Troopers are on the lookout for what they call "The Fatal Four." That's speeding, not wearing a seat belt, distracted, and drunk driving. Most highway fatalities are due to one of those factors. So, as we head into summer, they're joining forces across state lines to ramp up patrols and crack down on people who ignore the laws.

Kentucky State Police Trooper Jay Thomas said, "When we do some speed enforcement in McCracken County, we're gonna try to link up with ISP and have them do speed enforcement in Massac as well." He and Illinois State Police Trooper Michael Usher said they have one, unified goal going into one of the busiest travel seasons of the year. "The State Police, our goal is to make zero fatalities a reality. We're gonna do that by increasing our patrols this summer," said Trooper Usher.

While looking for the fatal four, troopers in Kentucky are getting ready to take texting and driving surveillance to another level. They're literally making it easier to catch distracted drivers in the act. Trooper Thomas said, "Just because it's a pickup truck sitting next to you, or maybe a semi, that may be a trooper in that vehicle looking for those violations." That's a warning for drivers by the men and women charged with keeping them alive. "At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you return home to your family," said Trooper Usher.

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