BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN – For the past six years the number of traffic fatalities in Ohio has been right around 1,000, which by itself may sound high but compared to 45 years ago is down by 63 percent.
The first year the Ohio State Highway Patrol released traffic fatalities was 1936 and the number was 2,389. The number peaked in 1969 at 2,778 and has been falling ever since.
Last year, 1,017 people died in traffic accidents in Ohio – a 63 percent drop in 45 years.
Derek Snyder is executive manager at Sweeney Buick GMC in Boardman. He said safety features in today’s vehicles accounts for about 40 to 50 percent of that 63 percent drop in fatalities.
Snyder uses a new Buick Verano to point out safety features including seat belts, 10 air bags, anti-lock brakes, and a Stabillitrak system to keep it going straight and crumple zones which in the event of impact drops the engine, preventing the dash board from pushing into the car.
Boardman Fire Chief Mark Pitzer is also a paramedic. Of that 63 percent drop he says medical attention at an accident scene accounts for about 25 percent of that number.
“We have measures where we can stop bleeding. Paramedics can now initiate IVs. If someone is having respiratory difficulty we can get them on oxygen,” Pitzer said.
Extraction tools are also more advanced. One of Boardman’s fire trucks has three sets of Jaws of Life which can get people out of a wrecked car quicker and safer.
The roads are also safer. There is more shoulder room, median barriers prevent head on collisions, raised pavement markers and rumble strips help keep drivers alert.
Snow removal has also improved which has decreased fatalities in winter.
Law enforcement has also improved, specifically on sections of roads with abnormally high fatalities. Police now focus on these areas, slowing people down and pulling them over if necessary.
People who deal with traffic safety refer to the 4 Es: Engineering, Emergency, Enforcement and Education. Programs such as Click It or Ticket and Obey the Sign or Pay a Fine all make drivers more aware.