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Louisville Traffic Deaths Appear to be Declining After 2013's Spike

The number of traffic fatalities in Jefferson County is expected to decline this year after an unusual spike in 2013—but the number of roadway deaths will likely still be higher than in 2012 and 2011.

Louisville's top traffic police official expects the city to have fewer traffic deaths in 2014 than last year, but this year's tally will still be greater than 2012 and 2013.

Jefferson County had 67 traffic deaths through Sunday, according to data from Kentucky State Police.

In 2013, the county had 80 deaths by this same date and a total of 87 by New Year's Day—the year-end total was a 33 percent increase from 2012.

"Last year was a very big surprise for us all," said Louisville Metro Police Lt. Joe Seelye, whose agency covers the much of the county.

Traffic increases around the holidays each year. With that added congestion usually comes more accidents, Seelye said.

But LMPD is taking extra precaution, as it does every year.

"We definitely beef up the enforcement like most agencies across the country," he said.

That's done through social media campaigns, like Kentucky State Police's "Finish Strong" initiative, and other public service efforts in partnership with the state, said Seelye.

“We look at the data by where the most serious crashes are occurring and the time frames they are occurring and deploy our resources accordingly,” he said.

For example, there were 17 motorcycle fatalities both in 2012 and 2013, according to Louisville Metro Police data (not to be confused with Jefferson County data used for the graphics in this report). 

One officer looked at this data and produced a pamphlet that was handed out at locations where bikers where hanging out.

“He went out to the motorcycle bike nights at Tumbleweed, Mike Linnig's, Kingfish and places like that and handed out flyers and spoke with people about motorcycle safety,” said Seelye.

What could really help is if the General Assembly passed a more stringent motorcycle helmet law like several states have done, he said. Right now, Kentucky's law requires a helmet only for those riders age 20 and under.

Louisville Police data show there have been 9 motorcycle fatalities so far this year. Data also show that Louisville's 3rd Police Division, which includes parts of Dixie Highway and the Iroquois neighborhood, has the most fatal crashes this year with 16.

In Louisville, 42 percent of fatal crashes happen within 6 hours—between 6 p.m. and midnight, according to Louisville Metro Police data.

Here's a look at where traffic deaths have happened in 2014, plus the dates, times and other details about the accident:
[googlemaps https://mapsengine.google.com/map/u/0/embed?mid=z5RSF6t3SE48.kNw6CWqCr59g&w=575&h=323]