Gov. DeWine: Road fatalities increased in 2019

Fatal Crashes

FILE – In this July 1, 2016 file photo, drivers work their way out of Dallas during rush hour. The U.S. government’s road safety agency says traffic deaths fell by a small amount for the second straight year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributed the 2.4% drop partially to technology in newer vehicles that can prevent crashes. The agency says the downward trend is continuing into 2019. First-half estimates show fatalities down 3.4%. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

COLUMBUS (WDTN) – The number of people who died due to crashes on Ohio roads increased in 2019 from 2018, according to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

Gov. DeWine says that 1,119 people have died in car crashes to date in Ohio, marking one of the deadliest years on the road in the decade. In 2018, 1,068 people died as a result of a car crash.

“Distracted driving involving smartphones is, without a doubt, a major contributing factor to this increase in traffic fatalities, which is why I’ve asked the Ohio State Highway Patrol to increase enforcement of distracted driving violations over the holidays,” Gov. DeWine said. “As we launch into one of the busiest travel times of the year, the way we drive will impact how many people are home for the holidays and how many people ring in the new year.”

Since 2013, 305 people have been killed in a total of 91,000 crashes that were caused by distracted driving. In those crashes, 47,000 people were injured, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

“I’m challenging everyone to put your smartphones away while you drive over the holidays and to make it your New Year’s resolution to drive without distraction every day going forward,” Gov. DeWine said. “If you have a passenger, ask them to read or write texts for you, or if you are the passenger, speak up if you see your driver reaching for the phone.”

The Ohio State Highway Patrol says it will step up enforcement to catch distracted drivers throughout Ohio.

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