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Ohio’s Car Crash Epidemic

October 7, 2021

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by Regan Sieperda, Esq.

In the first quarter of 2021, the number of fatalities caused by motor vehicle accidents was the highest since 2009. Though there was a significant decrease in motor vehicle accidents last year, likely due to decrease in drivers on the road, the indirect effect of prolonged periods without drivers on the roads seems to have changed the driving habits of United States drivers.

According to a preliminary estimate conducted by the National Safety Council, motor vehicle fatalities increased to 42,060 people in 2020 from 39,107 in 2019.[1] This is consistent with the stark rise in fatalities caused by motor vehicle accidents in Ohio. Last year in Ohio, 1,229 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents.[2] However, as of September 2021, that number is close to being surpassed, with 970 motor vehicle accident fatalities.[3]

The current trend in motor vehicle fatalities should be viewed as a public health emergency. Experts have cited increased speeds, drunk driving and less people wearing seatbelts as major contributing factors for the drastic increase in motor vehicle deaths. Though passengers inside vehicles are at a high risk of serious bodily injury or death due to these factors, pedestrians are at an even higher risk.

In 2020, 166 pedestrians were killed by motor vehicles in Ohio, a drastic increase from 128 in 2019.[4] Shockingly, on a national scale, from 2009 to 2019, there has been a 51% increase in pedestrians killed by motor vehicles.[5] Though motor vehicle collisions with pedestrians are less common than crashes of two or more vehicles, it is worth considering the severity of bodily injury threatened to pedestrians.

On an international scale, the World Health Organization (WHO) has set out to halve the amount of motor vehicle accident fatalities by 2030.[6] WHO’s objective will require involvement from police, transport, and health agencies to effectively design safer infrastructure and incorporate road safety features. This plan aims to improve safety features of vehicles, improve post-crash care for victims, set and enforce laws relating to key risk-factors, and raise public awareness.[7]

In 2020, of the 1,229 deaths in Ohio caused by crashes, 637 were OVI related, resulting in the death of 685 people. Additionally in 2020, there were 113 commercial-vehicle crashes, resulting in 132 deaths in Ohio. Lastly, 214 people were killed in motorcycle-involved traffic accidents.[1]

It is also worth noting that Ohio State Troopers made 9,418 arrests for distracted driving last year, resulting in a 10% increase from 2019. Franklin, Hamilton, Clermont, Warren and Lorain Counties accounted for more than 21% of the arrests for Distracted Driving. 

In order to combat the increased number of infractions, the Ohio State Patrol has increased enforcement to combat the changed driving habits of Ohio drivers.

YTD Activity20212020
OVI Enforcement14,28911,812
Seat Belt Enforcement58,97239,852
Distracted Driving Violations9,3616,227
Commercial Vehicle Enforcement18,25314,260

            *Table Statistics Gathered from Ohio State Patrol OSHP Statistics

Though local, state, and federal agencies are able to change the physical design of the road with “traffic calming measures” or change the legal speed limit, it is up to the drivers themselves to acknowledge, respect and follow traffic laws. It is the duty of the driver to not be distracted while driving, follow the speed limit and allow adequate space between their own vehicle and others around them. A failure to follow the rules of road can lead to serious bodily injury or death. With fatality statistics on the rise and driving patterns changing, it is up to drivers to continue following law enforcement guidelines, in order to cultivate and maintain safe roadways for all operators, passengers, and pedestrians.

[1] National Safety Council

[2] Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ohio Fatal Crash Summary Statistics by Year, DPS Electronic Crash Record System, 2021

[3] World Population Review

[4] Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ohio Fatal Crash Summary Statistics by Year, DPS Electronic Crash Record System, 2021

[5] National Highway Safety Administration

[6] World Health Organization, Road Traffic Injuries, 2021

[7] World Health Organization, Road Traffic Injuries, 2021

[8] Ohio State Highway Report, 2020 Operational Report, 2021.

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