DELAWARE COUNTY, OH (WCMH) – Tailgating, no turn signals, driving recklessly, the Ohio State Highway Patrol is cracking down on dangerous drivers.
Last year, 150 people died in Ohio because of semi-truck crashes and Franklin County leads the state with the most deaths. It’s definitely not a statistic to be proud of especially when 72 percent of those fatal crashes were the fault of passenger drivers, not truck drivers.
Troopers are taking a very aggressive approach to reducing that statistic and saving lives. They’re targeting drivers traveling recklessly around semi-trucks, while also inspecting thousands of commercial vehicles to make sure they’re safe for the road.
“Four-wheelers, they don’t respect truckers,” said commercial semi-truck driver Gerold Cole.
He was getting an inspection, after being pulled over at the I-71 North rest stop in Delaware County.
“I appreciate what the safety officers are doing, as far as the safety, but I do think they need to hit the four-wheelers more,” he said.
He travels to Columbus at least once a day from Bowling Green, Kentucky.
“They don’t turn their signals on. They give us no indications,” said Cole. “People forget we can’t stop on a dime.”
Cole isn’t exactly fond of drivers in Central Ohio.
“They need to teach them how to drive,” he said.
But, he has a good reason.
“One of my biggest fears is running over a car with babies in it,” said Cole.
It’s why the Ohio State Highway Patrol is amping up up enforcement, targeting cars driving dangerously around big vehicles.
“Improper lane change, following too close is the primary violations that we see,” said Lt. Kelly Weakley.
Whlie those violations may not seem like a big deal, they can be deadly.
“Potentially 80,000 pounds going down the freeway, so you want to make sure you give them proper room, make sure they can see you,” said Lt. Weakley.
Sgt. Isaac Saunders inspected Cole’s entire truck. He measures his brakes. He also looks at his lights, steering, tires, nothing goes unchecked.
“The majority of the commerical related fatalities is the passenger vehicle that is at fault,” said Lt. Weakley.
So troopers, including Sgt. Saunders are keeping a close watch on four-wheelers and truck drivers hoping it will encourage safer driving and fewer deaths.
“See that blue semi right here? See how close he is?” said Sgt. Saunders, during a ride-along. “We’re stopped him for following too close and kind of not giving the other truck enough room when he changed lanes.”
“Learn how to drive. Think about your kids,” said Cole. “And if you don’t know how to drive. They’re not going to learn.”
The Ohio Insurance Institute said auto-insurance rates are actually going up, costing you more money, because of the intensity and frequency of car crashes across the state. It said if we all drove safer as a collective, we’d likely see those rates go down.
Cole did pass his truck inspection.