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Ohio Traffic Fatalities Reach Historic Low In 2009
Declines in deaths reflect the safest year on record

COLUMBUS (Wednesday, February 24, 2010) - Traffic deaths on Ohio’s highways last year were at a historic low, representing the safest year on record for those traveling the state’s highways, according to preliminary 2009 fatality statistics released today by the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS), the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the state’s traffic safety partners.

In 2009, 1,028 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes - a 14 percent decline from the previous year.

Preliminary traffic safety statistics for 2009 indicate steady declines in most reporting categories. Overall, the number of motor vehicle fatal crashes decreased to 952 in 2009, as compared with 1,099 fatal crashes in 2008. Motorcycle fatalities and fatal crashes also declined, with 158 fatal motorcycle crashes (down from 212 in 2008) which resulted in 163 deaths reported (down from 213 in 2008).

Perhaps the greatest area of progress was in the area of impaired driving, where alcohol-involved fatal motor vehicle crashes declined by nearly 25 percent in 2009, with 320 reported statewide (down from 422 in 2008).

"Ohio’s traffic safety progress can be attributed to the education, enforcement and engineering by all of our traffic safety and law enforcement partners," said ODPS Director Cathy Collins-Taylor. "We sincerely appreciate the hard work on all levels – from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ohio Traffic Safety Office and the Ohio Department of Transportation to the local law enforcement agencies and traffic safety stakeholders who are committed to keeping our roads safe."

"Being safe is a team effort," said ODOT Director Jolene M. Molitoris, who recently introduced the department’s ‘Target: Zero’ initiative - a heightened focus on safety in the workplace, on construction sites, and with the traveling public to assure zero tolerance for any safety hazards. "Safety must come first and this is just the beginning. No matter what travel choice Ohioans make, we want the highest standards of safety on all of Ohio’s transportation system."

Today’s announcement follows Monday’s Ohio Executive Safety Summit, a meeting of federal and state traffic safety partners including ODOT, ODPS, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, Federal Highway Administration, and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to discuss Ohio’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP). By using crash data, the state plan identifies and strategically addresses the state’s most critical traffic safety issues and problems.

The SHSP relies heavily on a collaborative approach by the state’s many safety partners to implement effective programs that impact motor vehicle crashes on Ohio’s roadways, as well as the state’s media partners to promote the activities of OVI Task Forces and local law enforcement that are a critical deterrent in enhancing highway safety.

ODOT coordinates a statewide SHSP steering committee, which meets quarterly to review crash trends and discuss implementing key strategies across agencies. Through efforts such as SHSP, state officials expect to continue a positive trend of declining traffic fatalities through enhancements in traffic safety and enforcement.

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For more information contact:
Scott Varner, ODOT Communications, at 614-644-8640,
Tom Hunter, Ohio Department of Public Safety, 614-466-6178,
or your local ODOT District Communications Office, at 216-584-2006