Data released by the Ohio State Highway Patrol show that road deaths in the Buckeye State reached levels in 2021 that have not been seen in almost two decades. The figures reveal that traffic accidents in Ohio claimed 1,360 lives in 2021, which is the highest annual death toll since 1,417 died on the state’s roads in 2002. Accident fatalities have been climbing steadily in Ohio for several years despite significant advances in automobile safety and road design.
The number of traffic deaths linked to DUI/OVI in Ohio actually fell slightly in 2021, but driving under the influence remains worryingly common according to law enforcement agencies in the state. Drivers impaired by drugs or alcohol were involved in accidents that claimed 608 lives in 2021, which accounts for almost 45% of Ohio’s road deaths. Fewer drivers are driving after consuming alcohol according to an Ohio State Highway Patrol representative, but that has been offset by an alarming rise in the number of motorists who get behind the wheel after taking recreational or prescription drugs.
Speeding and seat belts
The traffic accident data suggests that many lives could have been saved if motor vehicle occupants had obeyed the law. The number of fatalities among road users not wearing seat belts rose by more than 20% in 2021, and deadly crashes involving drivers who were exceeding posted speed limits increased for the third consecutive year.
A thorny problem
Impaired driving deaths will likely continue to rise in the years ahead. Opioid and medical marijuana use is becoming more common, and law enforcement lacks tools that can accurately detect these substances during routine traffic stops. Awareness campaigns have changed societal attitudes toward drunk driving, but the public has yet to accept that operating a motor vehicle after taking drugs can be just as dangerous.