Officers push for highway safety

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 20, 2000

BURLINGTON – Last year, 13 people lost their lives on Ohio roads during the Memorial Day Weekend.

Saturday, May 20, 2000

BURLINGTON – Last year, 13 people lost their lives on Ohio roads during the Memorial Day Weekend.

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This year, the Ohio Highway Patrol, Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department and other area law enforcement officials are teaming up to make sure county travelers know how to stay safe on the highways.

"Traffic crash deaths are a leading killer in Ohio, and excessive speed is the leading causative factor for fatal crashes in the state," OHP Trooper Chris Smith said. "Statistics indicate more than half the people killed in motor vehicle crashes in Ohio each year are not wearing their available safety belt and that about 25 percent of fatal crashes in Ohio involve alcohol."

As part of a new partnership, troopers and deputies launched the Partners For Safety campaign Saturday at the Burlington Wal-Mart. With new, state-of-the art simulation equipment and information, as well as child safety restraint checks, officials spent the afternoon promoting highway safety awareness, Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Jerry Elliott said.

"We can reduce tragedy and increase the quality of life with the public’s help," Elliott said. "As part of this new partnership venture, residents will receive a program overview, free license plate bracket and a tip sheet."

The tip sheet includes a recommendation that motorists equip each vehicle with the Safe Seven to ensure safety on the roadways. These items include: a cellular telephone or CB radio; flares, reflectors or other warning devices; a "send help" or a similar sign and/or a white flag; a first aid kit; a flashlight; reflective tape; and a blanket or additional warm clothing.

The tip sheet also offers partners clues with which to identify an alcohol- or drug-impaired driver, Smith said.

"If a driver moves either very slowly or inaccurately or drives fast and recklessly, makes wide turns, stops in the roadway without cause, sits through the cycle of a traffic light without moving, straddles center or edge lines, signals one way and turns the other way, drives without headlights at night, makes abrupt or incremented movements during turns or drives a path that is not on the designated roadway, they could be impaired by drugs or alcohol," he said.

Anyone who spots a possibly impaired driver should call 1-800-GRAB-DUI or star (*) DUI on their cellular telephones, Smith said.

"Motorists truly are the eyes and cars of highway safety," he said. "We ask that motorists who call these numbers try and provide as much information as possible, such as the location and direction the vehicle is traveling, the make and model of the car and the license number."

Also during the partnership effort, the Operation ABC Mobilization – America Buckling Up Children, will continue, Elliott said.

"This effort is part of the largest-ever coordinated crackdown on drivers who do not buckle up their children," Elliott said.