A new survey by the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety reported that unsafe driving patterns and behaviors went up from 2020 to 2021. AAA said these patterns and behaviors include speeding, red-light running, drowsy driving and driving while impaired due to “cannabis” or alcohol.
According to AAA, “the most alarming” finding from the survey was that the number of drivers that admitted to getting behind the wheel after drinking enough that they thought they were over the legal limit increased by almost 24 percent. The survey also said that this increase runs contrary to the “steady declines” in these kinds of behaviors in the three years from 2018 through 2020.
In Highland County, the number of arrests for operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) have gone down from 2020 through 2022, according to Ohio State Highway Patrol statistics. The statistics showed that in 2020, there were 63 arrests for OVI, going down to 60 in 2021 and dropping considerably in 2022 to 39 as of Nov. 21, 2022.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol also posted a news release pertaining to distracted driving. The release said that the state patrol “will be conducting a traffic safety initiative on local routes that have seen the most traffic crashes. Troopers will be looking for crash-causing violations such as impaired driving, distracted driving, speeding and failure to wear safety belts.”
Lieutenant J.D. Madden at the Wilmington Post of the state patrol said that it was a “strong possibility” these traffic checks would be extended into Highland County, but the main focus for them was Clinton County due to a spike in traffic fatalities.
Other statistics from the state patrol showed that the county’s fatal crashes have also gone down, from 10 in 2020 to eight in 2021 and five in 2022 as of Nov. 15, 2022.
“The reversal in the frequency of U.S. drivers engaging in risky driving behavior is disturbing. While drivers acknowledge that certain activities behind the wheel like speeding and driving impaired are not safe, many still engage in these activities anyway,” Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said. “We must be aware of the serious consequences of dangerous driving behaviors and change course.”
The AAA summary of the release said that traffic fatalities have gone up since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. AAA said that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) “estimated” that 42,915 people died from motor vehicle crashes in 2021, which was a 10.5-percent increase compared to 2020 which had 38,824 traffic fatalities in the U.S.
The NHTSA said in the release that “dangerous driving behaviors” like speeding, alcohol impairment, and non-use of seat belts make up a “considerable proportion” of the increased fatalities.
“The privilege of driving comes with great responsibility, which some motorists are not taking seriously,” Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research, said. “Fortunately, we know that reinforcing safe behavior with someone we know can influence them to change, so on our next ride with a passenger, let’s show them how it’s done safely. Together we can move closer to zero traffic deaths.”
AAA had multiple recommendations for drivers, which include putting your smartphone away while at the wheel, slowing down and staying alert and buckling your seat belt during every drive.
Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.