(WKBN) – After several years impacted by Covid-19, summer travel appears to be back and the Ohio State Highway Patrol is reminding people about safe travel habits over the next few days.
“This is going to be the third biggest Memorial Day in terms of travel since we began tracking those records,” said Jim Garrity from AAA.
You can expect to see lots of patrols during your travels this weekend. A big focus for them this year is wearing their seat belt.
AAA predicts 43 million people will be traveling at least 50 miles this holiday weekend, the vast majority going by car.
As we all celebrate the long holiday weekend, law enforcement considers this period from Memorial Day to Labor Day the “100 deadliest days of summer.”
Last year’s statistics show how important this is for 2023.
Last summer, state troopers investigated nearly 70,000 accidents, with more than 400 fatalities, 4,600 were charged with an OVI, and 22,000 seatbelt citations were handed-out.
Troopers also cited 30,000 drivers for speeding at least 20 miles an hour over the limit, with an astounding 1,300 of those driving 100 mph or more.
So, expect to see lots of patrols during your travels. A big focus for troopers this year is wearing a seat belt.
According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, 15 fatal crashes killed 18 people in the 2022 Memorial Day weekend in Ohio. In fatal crashes where a seatbelt was available, all were unbelted. Sergeant Bridget Matt with Ohio State Highway Patrol says seatbelts can extremely increase your chance of survival.
“It’s really an important part that we’re trying to urge to everyone that’s going to be traveling this weekend and all weekends to wear your seat belt, to take those couple extra seconds and buckle up before you drive,” said Sgt. Matt.
Ohio State Highway Patrol is partnering with 6 other states to focus on seatbelt use this weekend. It’s also taking part in the Click It or Ticket campaign through June 5. Troopers are also reminding everyone to stay sober while driving and to watch for road construction.
This is also the first summer with Ohio’s new distracted driving law allowing police to stop drivers caught using their cell phones. Officials with ODOT say motorists need to be especially careful in construction zones.
“They’re 10 to 12 feet wide, there’s not a lot of room for error as you’re driving through those zones,” said Ray Marsch from ODOT.
Troopers are also emphasizing driving sober. Seven of the 15 fatal crashes were OVI related.
“With it being the holiday, there’s going to be a lot of festivities and gatherings with friends and family. So we really are encouraging people to find a sober ride, be responsible and plan ahead,” Sgt. Matt said.
Sergeant Matt also mentioned construction season is ramping up. She reminds people to look out for them on the roads this weekend as well.
Give plenty of distance between you and any construction work. And leave some extra time for your travels to get to your destination safely.
“Giving yourself just an hour heading out the door puts you in a mindset where you’re…worst case scenario you’re getting to your destination exactly when you planned to get there. Best case, you’re getting there an hour early,” said Garrity.