Fatal crashes in Ohio spike following pandemic, experts say speeding, impairment to blame

Miami Valley News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Following a series of fatal crashes in the Miami Valley and surrounding counties, experts are urging drivers to adhere to safer practices while on the road.

“You don’t want to be the person who causes someone’s family and someone else’s life to be taken away,” said senior advisor for AAA, Kara Hitchens.

Over the Fourth of July weekend alone, the Ohio State Highway Safety Patrol said 16 people were killed in 15 different crashes across the state. Impairment is thought to play a factor in at least five of those accidents, but Hitchens said generally, speeding is also known to be one of the most common causes for recent accidents.

“We know that last year speeding was up because there were fewer people on the road and those folks who were on the road took the liberty to go a little faster,” she said.

And Sgt. Chris Colbert with Ohio Highway Safety Patrol, said even with more people traveling following the lifting of COVID restrictions, drivers are refusing to slow down.

“Now that we’ve seen an increase in the amount of traffic volume,” he explained, “people are still kind of following in that kind of their same habits that they, they got into over a year ago.”

While speeding may be the result of impatience or running behind schedule, Hitchens said driving faster isn’t worth the damage it has the potential to cause to drivers and those around them.

“It’s not going to get you anywhere faster,” she said. “In fact, we’ve heard studies where driving faster doesn’t get you to your destination any earlier than in driving at the normal rate of speed.”

Hitchens further explained that for every five miles per hour a person travels over the speed limit, they greatly increase the damage that is likely to occur in the event of a crash. And with a combination of speeding, distracted driving, drug and alcohol use and other factors causing more than 80 traffic fatalities this year compared to 2020, Colbert said law enforcement is ready to start cracking down.

“We’re working with the sheriff’s department, Trotwood PD and Dayton Police Department on a service initiative in the city to increase not only awareness of the problem, but also to increase enforcement and that kind of stuff in areas that have been identified.”

Hitchens said the best course of action for drivers, however, is to drive defensively and proactively before an accident occurs.

“Travel the posted speed limit,” she said. “You’re going to get there and it’s best to get there safely and alive as opposed to injuring yourself for killing yourself or…causing some kind of crash along the way.”

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