Traffic crashes accelerate over holiday season

Staff report


The holiday season is under way, and so is the season for increased traffic crashes, say law enforcement and transportation officials.

Last year, holiday crashes in the state from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day increased 24 percent, injuries 18 percent and serious injuries 12 percent when compared with the monthly average for intersection crashes throughout the rest of the year, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation.

“Allow more time to get to your destination and especially in congested driving areas. Allow ample space between you and the vehicle in front of you, so you have more time to stop and also if you’re struck in rear, you won’t get pushed into the car in front of you,” said Sgt. Michael Wilson of the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Canfield post.

ODOT reported that 410 intersection crashes resulted in serious injuries during the 2011 holiday period – an 18 percent increase over 348 the prior year.

Although the intersection crashes were up, total crashes for the holiday period declined nearly 5 percent from 14,624 in 2010 to 13,938 last year, according to ODOT.

Wilson said the most dangerous part of holiday driving is driving under the influence of alcohol.

If motorists notice a vehicle with what appears to be an impaired driver, “they could stay behind them at a distance and get a license plate to call into the police department or highway patrol,” Wilson said.

Distracted driving also plays a role in traffic accidents. Ohio has a ban on texting while driving that if violated could result in a $150 fine. Also under state law, it’s illegal for drivers under age 18 to use any mobile communications device while driving.

“There’s always been distracted driving, but it’s being brought to light with texting and cellphones. We look for violations and in our crash reports there’s a box for distracted driving to record that information,” Wilson said.

He added that motorists should take extra care with roads slick from rain, snow or ice.

“Slow down, pay attention, drive safely and use common sense,” Wilson said.

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