COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW)– Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine began his coronavirus news conference on Tuesday by addressing crashes on the state’s roadways.
The governor cited a statistic from the Ohio State Highway Patrol that July 2020 was the deadliest month on the state’s roads since 2007. A total of 154 died. DeWine said speed was one of the major contributing factors.
The number of motorcyclists killed was up by 52 percent compared to the previous July and pedestrian fatalities was up by 123 percent, DeWine said. Early data for August indicates 122 people were killed in crashes in Ohio.
Ohio State Highway Patrol Col. Richard Fambro said there was a significant decrease in traffic volume and crashes in the early months of the pandemic. By the end of April, 28 fewer people had lost their lives on Ohio roads compared to 2019.
“As Ohio began to open up, we saw a definite uptick in crash, fatal crashes, and a significant increase in the speeds in which vehicles were traveling on Ohio’s roads,” Fambro said, as he appeared at the news conference via video.
As of Tuesday, troopers have issued more than 2,220 citations for 100 mph or more. That’s a 61 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
“We are alarmed, the highway patrol and our partners,” Fambro said. “We take very seriously those deaths. Those are family members, loved ones who have lost their lives on Ohio’s roadways, and we take that personally.”
DeWine said the state is adding high-visibility crosswalks, street light and signage at hundreds of intersections to make them safer for pedestrians. To combat distracted driving, there are corridors with high enforcement and low tolerance.
He also took the opportunity to push for the Hands Free Ohio bill, which is tougher on people who use wireless devices while driving. It is pending in the Ohio General Assembly.
DeWine announced an executive order creating the Ohio Traffic Safety Council, led by the Ohio Department of Public Safety. They will monitor and coordinate all statewide traffic safety initiatives.
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