Ohio highway signs alert drivers of drugged driving problem

The Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio State Highway Patrol are utilizing the state’s 130 freeway message signs, as well as portable highway signs, to raise awareness about the growing drugged driving problem in Ohio.

The highway signs will display messaging alerting travelers to the increase in drugged driving crashes, according to a release from ODOT.

The drugged driving messages are up today, then will go off Thursday and Friday, said Matt Bruning, ODOT Press Secretary. The messages return for the weekend, before being rotated out for seat belt messages for the Thanksgiving holiday.

They also urge people to start talking about the drug abuse epidemic, a reference to the state’s Start Talking Initiative that encourages parents and community leaders to talk to their children about the dangers of drug use.

According to ODOT traffic crash statistics, Ohio has seen a 25 percent increase in drugged driving crashes since 2012.

“Law enforcement officers, first responders, tow truck drivers and the majority of our workers here at ODOT do their jobs alongside our roads and highways. Their safety is at risk every time someone gets behind the wheel while impaired,” ODOT Director Jerry Wray said in a release. “There is so much that needs to be done to address this problem, but one way we can start is by talking to young people about the dangers of drug use and impaired driving.”

There have been 3,574 drugged driving crashes already this year, or about 33 percent of all impaired driving crashes, ODOT says.

“Lives are forever changed when people make the decision to drive after taking drugs,” Col. Paul Pride, Patrol Superintendent, said in a release. “If you see drug activity or impaired driving report it immediately to the Patrol by calling #677.”

Research that shows youth are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs when parents and adults talk with them about substance use and abuse.

Governor John R. Kasich and First Lady Karen W. Kasich launched Start Talking! in 2014 to give parents, guardians, educators and community leaders the tools to start the conversation with Ohio’s youth about the importance of living healthy, drug-free lives.

For more information, visit www.StartTalking.Ohio.Gov.

News Center 7’s John Bedell is working on this story, and will have more later today.

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