Ohio records more than 1,000 traffic deaths this year
By Marc Kovac
The number of fatal car accidents on the state’s roadways has topped 1,000 for the second time in six years, according to updated statistics released by the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Department of Transportation.
A total of 1,070 people have been killed on state roads.
“That’s 1,070 folks that were here last holiday in 2014, during Christmas and New Year’s, that are not with us now,” said Col. Paul Pride, patrol superintendent.
The result is up from 919 last year and 1,024 in 2012. The highest year on record was 1969, when 2,778 people died on Ohio roads, Pride said.
AAA has projected a 1.4 percent increase in holiday travel this year, with a record 100.5 million travelers expected.
“Due to the extended length of this holiday period, car travel accounts for an even higher share of overall travel than in other holidays,” the motor club reported. “Nearly 91 percent of all travelers will take to the road this year.”
State officials have focused increased attention on traffic deaths since July, when they began displaying updated fatality numbers on electronic signs along Ohio’s highways.
ODOT Director Jerry Wray said more people are driving. “It’s a combination of weather and lower gas prices and the mobility that we have in this country,” he said. “With that mobility comes some responsibility, and the responsibility is to be careful, to be safe, to not drive distracted. Remember, you are affecting the lives of those around you, you’re impacting potentially the future for your family and certainly yourself.”
Pride said deaths on Ohio’s roads are preventable. He urged drivers to wear their seat belts, refrain from drinking and driving or texting behind the wheel and remaining within the confines of posted speed limits.
“We want to ask as you go about your travels this holiday season to keep that in mind,” he said. “Designate a driver. Don’t drink and drive. Put your seat belt on. Make sure everyone in your car has their seat belt on. Watch your speed and your texting. It’s not as important as you are. Your family would much rather have you than that text message.”