TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – Over 100 million Americans are about to engage in the time-honored tradition of being stuck in traffic or the airport around the holidays. Whether you’re hitting the road or the skies this week, it’s important to keep safety in mind.
Now through New Year’s, AAA estimates about a 4% increase in holiday travelers compared to last year. In a more sobering statistic, over 1100 people have been killed on Ohio roads this year to date, the 4th deadliest year this decade — and it’s likely we take the third spot before Christmas.
Sergeant Christopher Fitzgerald with the Ohio State Highway Patrol in Toledo says they’ve handled nearly 500 crashes this year related to impaired driving, with 700 impaired drivers arrested in Lucas County alone.
“Every arrest we make is a life that’s saved,” says Fitzgerald. “Our troopers are committed during the holidays to removing impaired drivers, but we also need folks’ help to assist us and get the word out.”
With the advent of rideshare programs, troopers are hoping to see fewer drunk drivers. Fitzgerald adds there are “very few excuses now, if you want to partake in alcohol at a Christmas party or celebration, there are options for people to go out and do.”
Distracted driving is a big issue year-round, but the problem gets worse with everyone trying to coordinate holiday plans on the go.
Today, Governor Mike DeWine met with the heads of OSHP and ODOT, to outline a strategy for reducing traffic fatalities. Among the statistics highlighted: Over the last 5 years, Ohio has averaged over 200 distracted-driving related crashes between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day alone.
The takeaway: If you need to take that call or fiddle with the GPS, pull over and don’t put yourself or others at risk.
A silver lining can be found here, however. Northwest Ohio can expect dry weather and above-average temperatures next week, taking that element out of the stress of this week’s travel plans. No matter where you’re headed, just remember to do your part to ensure everyone makes it home for the holidays.