Fatal car accidents on the rise in Ohio

The Greene County Safe Community Coalition is encouraging motorists to be more aware on the highways as the number of traffic crashes across the state increase.

There had been 783 fatal crashes across Ohio as of Thursday, according to statistics from the Ohio State Highway Patrol. There were 654 fatal crashes in 2014, according to OSP.

Most accidents are caused by unsafe speed, following to closely, improper lane change, and failure to yield, said Ashley Steveley, a health educator with the Greene County Combined Health District.

The coalition is working with law enforcement and schools in the county to educate drivers on how be safe on the highways.

One major contributor to fatal is driving while impaired, said Steveley.

“Driving impaired doesn’t just focus on alcohol,” Steveley said. “It can also be caused by using illegal drugs or prescription drugs.”

According July 31 statistics from OSP, the latest statewide figures available, there have been six fatal crashes in Greene County this year, compared to four in 2014; Montgomery County has had 40 crashes so far in 2015 up from a total of 38 in 2014; Miami County has had seven crashes this year, compared to nine last year; Warren County has had eight crashes this year, compared to nine in 2014; and in Clark County, there have been 14 crashes this year, compared to 13 total in 2014.

Greene County health officials cite drivers using their cellphones for texting and social media as other factors behind the increase in crashes.

Darielle Hemphill, 21, who attends Central State University, said she sees people using mobile phones while behind the wheel all the time.

“I don’t want people to put my life at risk to send a short text messages,” she said. “The conversation can wait.”

There are some things that motorists can do to reduce the chances of being involved in a fatal accident.

Health officials said wearing a seat belt can decrease the likelihood of an accident becoming fatal. They also encourage motorcyclist to wear helmets.

Motorists should also stay off the road when not well rested, Steveley said. “Driving fatigued is similar to driving while intoxicated,” Steveley said.

Coalition members are also urging drivers to slow down at night and during the winter months.