Deadly impaired driving crashes increased in 2020, OSHP’s new dashboard shows

Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 10:13 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The Ohio State Highway Patrol wants you to know how much of a problem impaired driving is in the state.

It released a new dashboard on Wednesday for the public to track arrests and crashes related to incidents where someone is operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI).

It visualizes the state’s crash and arrest data from the last five years. In 2020, fewer people hit the road due to coronavirus lockdowns, but the dashboard showed an increase in fatal OVI crashes compared to 2019.

It says there were 637 fatal OVI-related crashes in 2020, compared to 529 in 2019. 685 people died in those wrecks last year.

“We’re seeing an alarming trend,” said State Trooper Brice Nihiser. “There are more and more of these crashes every day. We want to try and make sure we get these drivers off the road to make them safer for everyone.”

OVI crashes accounted for 53% of all fatal crashes from 2019 to 2020, but only made up 5% of the state’s overall wrecks on the roadways. Nihiser couldn’t say what led to the increase.

Repeat offenders made up 31% of OVI arrests in the last five years, the data showed.

“We need to influence a change in driving behavior,” Nihiser said. “We need to take them off the road. If they’ve done it multiple times, there needs to be some additional stuff that we’re doing to make sure we get them off of the roadways.”

The dashboard also notes the four routes with the most OVI crashes in the last 12 months. They include I-75 and US Route 20, which both run through Northwest Ohio.

The arrest data featured on the dashboard is not a complete look at every department in the state, Nihiser said, but rather the arrests made by OSHP. Those have also increased over the last 12 months.

At this point last year, the seven-day moving average of OVI arrests in Ohio was around 17. Today, that figure is at 85.

“Make sure that you’re driving sober,” Nihiser said “If you do go out and have a drink, designate a sober driver. That’s going to be the safest outcome for everyone.”

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