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How The Carrollton Bus Crash Changed Kentucky

By: Renee Charles Email
By: Renee Charles Email

The Carrollton bus crash 20 years ago, sparked changes nationwide from redefining the legal limit of being drunk to how buses were constructed.

The drunk driver who caused the wreck, Larry Mahoney, was convicted and served only 9 years for the deadly crash. Today some people receive much longer terms for similar crimes...So what's changed? Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson says the laws were the same in 1988, he says it's public perception of the crime that's changed. "First off the public's tolerance of drunk driving and killing is changed and expectation of the public that these people be held criminally responsible is way up."

Mother's Against Drunk Driving says Kentucky has made great strides. "In 1988 44% of crashes were alcohol involved and in 2006 which is the latest 20.4% Were alcohol involved" says Angela Criswell. Kentucky now has the second lowest rate nationwide for drunk driving fatalities.

Many of the victims from the crash and their families are involved with MADD today and Criswell says they didn't expect their tragedy to make change. "None of them asked to have their experience be the watershed event that shifted opinion in the country." But it did, and she says we have to do more to honor the victims of that crash. "They want to see change, they want the memory to be about hope for progress."

Ray Larson says Kentucky has strong laws on the books regarding drunk driving, but they need to be better enforced.


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