Local troopers respond to 282 incidents over Christmas weekend

Zoe Greszler • Dec 26, 2018 at 10:00 PM

The state Highway Patrol reported nine deaths on Ohio roadways during the 2018 Christmas weekend.

Three fatalities were the result of not wearing a seat belt when available and three were OVI-related.

The five-day reporting period — from Friday through Tuesday — saw the same number of fatalities as the 2017 holiday weekend, but lower than 2016 when 14 people were killed in traffic crashes.

No fatalities were seen in Huron County or any of its neighboring counties. However, local Norwalk patrol post Sgt. Evan Stevens said of the post’s 282 reported incidents, it saw nine crashes during that period — most of which were deer related. None of the accidents were suspected to have involved alcohol or drug use, which Stevens called “a really good thing.” There were three separate operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI) charges and arrests. 

Throughout the state, troopers made 4,600 traffic enforcement contacts; including 404 OVI arrests, 164 drug arrests and 635 safety belt citations. In addition, the patrol made 10,001 non-enforcement contacts including 2,148 motorist assists.

Local troopers made four drug-related arrests, issued 11 seatbelt citations, 100 other citations, 31 equipment warnings and 133 other warnings.

Those numbers are included in the state-wide data, which reported 719 crashes, 404 OVIs, 281 aggressive driving citations, 164 drug citations or arrests and 635 seat belt violations. 

Stevens said the Christmas holiday, while it sees an increased number of drivers on the road, isn’t as dangerous of a holiday as some others. He stressed the need for drivers still to be cautious though.

“Christmas not so much,” he said. “The night before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest days of the year for drinking and driving, and New Year’s is obviously a big night for alcohol and drug crashes. I think with Christmas, people are mostly just traveling through, trying to get to spend time with family and friends.”

The biggest common risk drivers take in during Santa’s holiday is being in related to being in a rush, Stevens said. He advised drivers to always, but especially during the holidays, to leave early and “give yourself ample time to get to your destination.” 

“That’s a big one,” he said. “People don’t want to miss out on Christmas dinner, or family opening up presents.”

State patrol superintendent Col. Paul Pride said he thinks the general safety of motorists over the holiday weekend was due both to the diligence of the drivers, as well as the officers.

“Troopers were highly visible this weekend encouraging motorists to drive safely,” Pride said. “We thank everyone who slowed down, buckled up and designated sober drivers this weekend. We ask that you do the same every time you get behind the wheel.”

Year-to-date, there have been 1,046 confirmed fatalities on Ohio’s roads; a 10-percent decrease over the same time last year. Roadway safety is a shared responsibility; everyone can contribute to making our roadways safer by following traffic laws, wearing safety belts and driving sober.

Stevens offered the following safety tips while traveling during the holidays, especially as New Year’s draws close:

• “Don’t be in a rush and keep an eye out on the weather conditions. They can change in a heart beat.”

• “Make sure you check your tire pressure; it can get low with the temperature change.”

• “Obviously drinking and drive is a big one, so we always ask people to drink responsibly or have a designated driver.”

• “Be familiar with the area you’re driving in — people blow through stop signs or go speeding in the area because they miss the signs. It’s good to remember too that you should maintain at least one car’s length from other vehicles for 10 mph hat you’re traveling.”

• We have a lot of fail-to-yield crashes for private drives, mostly because of the excess of people on the roads, at the stores, or someone trying to make it (between cars) as they pull out. Be mindful of the other drivers on the road.”

• “I always tell people don’t be in hurry and give yourself ample time to travel. Always.”

• “Probably half of the crashes we saw over the weekend were deer crashes. That’s a big thing with deer season. We don’t recommend swerving to hit a deer.”

• “Always wear your seatbelt and make sure your kids are buckled in, even if you’re in a hurry.”

• “Don’t go too fast for the weather conditions. And don’t speed. I always try to tell people, but especially young drivers, you don’t make up time by speeding.”

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