Impaired driving realities in Ohio

As the holiday season fast approaches, Ohio residents should prepare for an increase in impaired drivers on the road.

Most people in Ohio are generally excited this time of year as the big family holidays will soon be upon us. For at least six weeks, it can be easy to be swept into a feeling of celebration and specialness. While that can be wonderful, there is another trend that comes about during the holiday season and it is one that is anything but wonderful.

How serious is drunk driving over the holidays?

Drunk drivers seem to be everywhere during the holidays and they can turn a family's special time into a tragedy in the blink of an eye. BACtrack explains that impaired driving arrests spike between the Thanksgiving and New Year's holidays.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the day before Thanksgiving saw more than 5,500 people die across the county between 2000 and 2009. Of those deaths, roughly 36 percent were attributed to drunk drivers.

New Year's Day is the second single deadliest day on American roads. Of all fatalities that occur on this day, a whopping 42 percent are caused by drunk drivers.

How many people die in drunk driving accidents in Ohio?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration collects accident fatality statistics. These numbers show just how serious the problem of impaired driving really is in Ohio. From 2011 to 2012, drunk driving deaths in the state jumped from 310 to 389 and then went down to 266 in 2013. Sadly, the upward trend resumed the following year with 302 deaths and rose even further to 313 deaths in 2015.

In looking at Summit County specifically, a total of 65 lives were lost over this same five-year period. The only other neighboring county to have experienced more drunk driving fatalities in this time was Cuyahoga County. There, 118 fatalities occurred. Stark County was the site of 58 deaths and Medina another 19. Geauga, Portage and Wayne Counties recorded 14, 13 and 11 drunk driving deaths, respectively.

When is the drunk driving risk at its peak?

Certainly there may be more drunk drivers on the roads at holiday times or during nighttime hours but Ohioans should not think that they are completely safe at other times. An accident that happened in the middle of the afternoon this summer makes that very clear. My Dayton Daily News reported on a crash in Greene County in which a woman hit another vehicle head on, killing a man and leaving his wife with life-threatening injuries. The at-fault driver recorded a blood alcohol content of 0.343. The legal limit for intoxication is 0.08 percent.

What can be done to keep people safe?

The effort to increase safety on the road is an ongoing one. While dangers remain, it is important for people to reach out to an attorney for help after an accident occurs. This is an essential step in seeking compensation when preventive measures fail to keep innocent people safe.