OSHP says while traffic was down in 2020, fatal crashes reached 10-year high


COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The Ohio State Highway Patrol wants 2021 to be a safer year on the roads.

Numbers from Gov. Mike DeWine show 2020 was the deadliest year on Ohio roads in more than a decade.

With many working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the OSHP was surprised to see the death rate so high in 2020.

Statistics show there was less traffic in 2020, largely due to the pandemic, but even though traffic was down, the number of deadly accidents was up.

“It’s surprising that the amount of fatal crashes increased in 2020 because of the lack of traffic,” said OSHP spokesperson Sgt. Nathan Dennis.

According to preliminary data from the Ohio Department of Transportation, Ohio traffic was down approximately 15 percent in 2020, but traffic deaths rose 7 percent compared to 2019.

“As law enforcement, our goal is to ensure the safety of everyone on the roadway, so when we hear speeds are increasing and our crashes are increasing, our fatalities are increasing, we take that personal,” Dennis said.

Preliminary OSHP data shows there were 1,159 fatal crashes statewide in 2020, more than any of the past five years. Those crashes led to 1,236 deaths, which the governor said is the most in more than 10 years.

While it isn’t the only factor, Dennis said though overall driving was down last year, many of the people who were our were driving faster.

In 2020, troopers issued almost 4,000 citations to drivers going more than 100 miles per hour, and increase of 87 percent compared to the previous two-year average.

“Unfortunately, I think many people decided to take advantage of less traffic on the roadway and decided to increase their speed,” Dennis said.

AAA Ohio spokesperson Kimberly Schwind said a study conducted by AAA, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and Humanetics looked at the consequences speed has on crashes.

“Just between 40 and 56 miles per hour impact speed, your chance of surviving that crash dramatically decreases,” Schwind said.

Dennis’ message is slow down, buckle up, drive sober, and focus on the road.

“Everybody can help play a part in keeping the crashes down in Ohio and I just ask everybody do their part,” he said.

OSHP said the total number of crashes was down in 2020, but the deadly crashes were up.

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