COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – Despite less traffic throughout the year because of the COVID-19 outbreak, there have been 24 more traffic fatalities than last year during the same period, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
In 2020, there have been 756 fatalities from vehicle accidents in the state as of Aug. 27. During this same period in 2019, there were 732 crashes. According to Communications Commander Lt. Craig Cvetan of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the major factor is speed.
Montgomery and Clark counties were among the highest in the state as far as 2020 vs. 2019 fatal crash numbers, according to OSHP stats. Clark County currently has 14 more fatal crashes than it did in 2019, while Montgomery County has 10. Cuyahoga County had the largest difference year-to-year in the state with 15 more than in 2019.
“What we’ve noticed with the pandemic and reduced traffic, the speeds motorists are traveling are going up,” Cvetan told WDTN.com. “Not only in our crash data but in our speed enforcement data.”
Cvetan said OSHP has written 2,022 tickets this year for drivers traveling over 100 MPH. – 839 more than in 2019, a 61-percent increase. The State Patrol started noticing the jump in speeds back in May, with the biggest jump occurring in July when 1-in-3 crashes during the month were due to unsafe speeds.
“The speeds picked up in the pandemic when there was a reduced amount of traffic,” Cvetan said. “That didn’t change when traffic came back. If you look at the conditions of the roads there’s still less traffic (this year) for people to achieve those speeds. More people are working from home and up until now, there haven’t been school buses out.”
OSHP is fighting the trend with increased enforcement. Cvetan said there will be more troopers out across the state. Post Commanders are using data tools to determine the best places to put troopers and to slow down speeders.
“We’ve been targeting (toward) speed enforcement,” Cvetan said. “We are a data-driven agency. Using the State Patrol’s OSTATS online tool and previous enforcement data, that’s how Post Commanders are working to assign troopers to get speeds back down.”
Cvetan said just traveling over the speed limit doesn’t mean you’re clear as far as speed infractions. Drivers who are driving too fast for road or weather conditions won’t have the proper time to react and will also be cited.
For more information on Ohio’s fatal crash numbers, visit the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s website.
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