CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) — It’s been success story for the Ohio State Highway Patrol in Mahoning County, where 2014 wrapped up with a 19 percent decrease in fatal vehicle crashes.
While 2014 was just as deadly on the roads as 2013 across the state, things were actually safer in Mahoning County. This past year, the number of fatalities via car accidents dropped from 25 to 18.
Sgt. Bret Henderson of the Canfield Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said that it’s partly because they are enforcing laws already on the books.
“Any time you can decrease your fatal numbers from the year before, that’s a huge success,” said Henderson.
Henderson said he attributes a drop in the death toll to an increase in enforcement of traffic laws by highway patrolmen. This past year, they enforced 24 percent more seat belt violations alone in Mahoning County.
“Usually, in most fatal crashes, there wasn’t a seat belt used when it was available,” said Henderson.
The State Highway Patrol’s goal for 2015: Keep the number of traffic deaths across the state under 1,000, set a new record for safety and keeping patrolmen strict on traffic violations.
“So whether you’re using alcohol, drugs, abusing prescription drugs or stuff like that, that’s one of our big concerns; getting impaired drivers off the road,” Henderson said.
He also offered some advice for drivers hitting the road as winter hits the Valley.
“Make sure you give yourself time. Pay attention to the forecast. Drive at a slower speed. Make sure your car is in operating order. Make sure you’ve got decent tires on your car, so when you have to stop, you can stop,” said Henderson.
While the number of traffic deaths dropped in Mahoning and Trumbull Counties, the number actually increased in Columbiana County with 16 fatal crashes the past year after only 11 in 2013.
Henderson said greater enforcement should keep drivers safer across the Valley in the coming year.