In 2008, Ohio had a decline in traffic accident deaths, largely because of stepped-up highway enforcement in big cities and a drop in summer driving attributed to high gas prices, said State Highway Patrol.
Car crashes killed 1,080 people in Ohio this year, a record low, said patrol spokesman Sgt. Darren Blosser. The previous low mark was in 2006 with 1,239 deaths.
Ohio’s 13 percent reduction exceeded the national average of 9 percent, said Col. Richard Collins, the patrol superintendent.
Other factors include driver education programs, air bags and advances in trauma care.
There was also a reduction in alcohol-related deaths – down 10 percent in 2008 from 280 deaths last year. Troopers arrested more than 24,000 drunk drivers this year, Collins said.
Fatal crash figures in Ohio date back to 1933. The worst year was 1969, when 2,778 people were killed.
The patrol’s partnership with police in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo in accident-prone areas had a huge effect, Collins said.
For example, troopers on special details on interstate highways in Northeast Ohio issued more than 6,000 tickets for speeding and arrested 525 people for drugs in 2007 and 2008. The sweeps likely had the residual effect of causing drivers to regularly reduce their speeds in those areas, Collins said.