Deadly drug-related crashes on the rise in Ohio

Posted at 8:19 PM, Apr 12, 2017

Ohio State troopers are reporting something you may not have even known about on your roadways.

More drivers, high on drugs, are getting behind the wheel. The number of deadly drug-related crashes jumped up by 28 percent in Ohio in 2016.

The most recent accident, involving drugs, happened in Lorain County. An Amherst man going Westbound on Cooper Foster Park Road in Lorain struck a car but kept on driving. According to the police report, the man then crashed into a second car.

Lorain Police said the man had overdosed on heroin and was found passed out behind the wheel. While it was Lorain Police on the scene, state troopers told News 5 this kind of incident is becoming all too common.

"We see it a lot more often than we like,” said Lt. Carlos Smith, Ohio State Highway Patrol.

In 2013, state troopers reported 140 drug-related fatal crashes. The number then went down to 116 in 2014 but has been on the rise since, jumping to 186 deadly crashes in 2016.

"We're finding needles syringes, little packets of dope,” said Lt. Smith.

In many cases, the victims on the other end are innocent drivers and passengers.

"Some family could be traveling either on vacation, or trying to enjoy the evening or headed to a ball game, and then we have a senseless tragedy,” said Lt. Smith.

Videos of drivers being high behind the wheel are even going viral. Last month, a woman shot video of a man in Maple Heights overdosing in the driver’s seat.

"We do saturation patrol, OVI checkpoints, do a lot of things to try and curb to discourage people from driving or operating the vehicle impaired through education and enforcement both,” said Lt. Smith.

Troopers are asking folks to think twice if they've been drinking or have taken any drugs, even prescription.

“It all comes down to choices that you make,” said Lt. Smith.

More than 200 people killed from drug-related crashes last year. The total number of crashes, both fatal and non-fatal, involving drugs are also on the rise from about 4,100 to more than 4,600.