YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 32,000 people are killed each year in crashes. It is the top 10 cause of death among people aged 1–54, and the leading cause of death for ages 3 to 14.
In 2013, about 1,110 people in Ohio were killed in motor vehicle crashes, according to data compiled the CDC. Locally in Mahoning County, there have been seven fatal crashes so far this year, killing eight people – four of those were passengers.
Lieutenant Jerad Sutton, Ohio State Highway Patrol, says while most people think drunk driving is the top reason for fatal crashes, it’s really improper lane change. Sutton said most of the time the driver is distracted when that happens.
“Multi-tasking while driving is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you understand then you get behind the wheel of a car that your number one focus has to be driving not texting, not talking on the phone – driving,” Sutton said.
It may be common sense, but it’s also important to wear seat belts no matter how short the trip.
“It’s your responsibility that when you get in a car that the driver is sober, you’re buckling up when you get in the car and just exactly how important it is as a passenger that you have some responsibilities as well,” Sutton said.
Sutton said the number of fatal OVI crashes in the area has gone down from last year. He thinks it has to do with the Mahoning County OVI Task Force and the increased number of checkpoints.
According to the CDC, sobriety checkpoints and graduated teen driving laws can have a major impact on reducing traffic fatalities. Other measures that help are primary seat belt enforcement, ignition interlocks for drivers convicted of OVI, and speed and red light cameras.