Despite the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) having the third largest budget in the United States, traffic deaths are up by 4% in 2019. Alarmingly, drivers appear to be getting more reckless. Traffic deaths in 2018, for contrast, were the lowest seen in years.

With a count of 880 deaths so far this year, according to the Ohio State Patrol, drivers need to exercise caution, use defensive driving techniques and always follow simple safety rules, such as fastening your seatbelt. Shockingly, 33% of the deaths in 2019 are due to a failure to buckle up.

Speeding caused another 32% of these accidents, and more than 50% occurred when cars veered off the road. The last 27% of crashes occurred at intersections.

Why the uptick in numbers?

According to an ODOT spokesperson, resources are pouring into highway safety for new initiatives and digital billboards. However, these measures cannot combat the dangers introduced by impaired and distracted drivers.

Governor DeWine is concerned not just about texting, which is against the law, but also about any activity that removes drivers’ eyes from the road. These activities include eating and phone conversations. In fact, unlike most texting bans, Ohio law makes it outright illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to talk on the phone while driving, hands-free or not.

How is the government responding?

Earlier in 2019, Governor DeWine formed an official Distracted Driving Advisory Council to address this troubling issue and attempt to come up with solutions. Their agenda includes possible changes in state-wide policy and laws as well as more education on the dangers of distracted driving for young drivers, who are the most likely to engage in distracted driving activities.

It will take cooperation on the part of every driver to improve the safety of our roads. Are you doing your part?