Tuscarawas County, Ohio - There have been fewer traffic deaths this year in Tuscarawas County, but area public safety officials say they still have more work to do.
New Philadelphia State Highway Patrol Post Commander Lt. Mark Glennon says they’ve responded to eight fatal crashes with nine deaths so far this year, down from 19 crashes with 20 deaths for all of 2017.
‘We’re more than 50 percent less than last year if we do not have any more for the rest of the year,” he says.
Glennon attributes the decline in fatal crashes to increased patrol and enforcement as well as partnerships with education groups like Safe Communities, Safe Kids, and the Anti-Drug Coalition.
“It’s a combination of our troopers going out, working the road, enforcing the laws, and also the collaboration that we’ve been doing.”
Safe Communities Program Coordinator Kelly Snyder says they’ve been hosting events throughout the community to stress the importance of driving sober and buckling up. She says the decrease in fatal crashes over the past year show those efforts are paying off.
“Absolutely, that is a great sign, and we have increased patrol out, so visibility and increased messaging out, and all those factors can help in bringing those numbers down,” she says.
Snyder says the numbers also show that they still have work to do to get the message out about the importance of seat belt use.
“For Safe Communities, that’s one of the number one areas that we want to focus on is the seat belt because year after year, that statistic is high as is the impaired driving, she says.”
In this year’s fatal crashes, 63 percent of the victims were not buckled up, up from 50 percent the previous year. Thirty-percent of the crashes this year involved alcohol and 13 percent involved drugs.
Snyder says they’ll continue to partner with law enforcement, schools and community groups to promote driving safety through events like their Teen Driving Roadeo and community seat belt checks.
“Last year, in 2017, we were at Strasburg High School checking seat belts, and this year, for 2018, we’re at Claymont High School. We do like to spread out the high schools, and next year we’ll be visiting some other high schools and doing the same thing,” she says.
Glennon says the patrol will also continue working around the clock to get intoxicated and drug-impaired drivers off of the road.
“We’re working overtime as far as the drug-impaired drivers because we’re seeing a lot of them during the daylight hours now too. Typically, before, you would think an impaired driver was somebody after 6 p.m. all the way through the early morning. Now we’re seeing it all times of the day.”
Glennon says as of mid-November, they had made 372 OVI arrests this year including 124 for drug impairment. Of the drug impairment arrests, 63 were for marijuana.
STACEY CARMANY, TUSCO TV