CLEVELAND — The period from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend is referred to as the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer. The Ohio State Highway Patrol is reminding motorists to drive buckled, focused and sober.
Last year, 400 fatal crashes killed 434 people during this time. The 100 days only represent 27% of the calendar year, but they account for more than one-third of all fatal traffic crashes and deaths.
“There's a lot of factors that go into playing a role in increased traffic crashes,” said Sgt. Ray Santiago, of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. “Work zones that are in full swing. It's nice out so motorcyclists can go out. We have a lot more younger drivers that are out of school and able to use the roadways more.”
The 100 days also include the primary motorcycle riding months. Motorcycle crashes made up less than 3% of all crashes during this time frame, but made up about 32% of the fatal crashes
“We know that total overall motorcycle crashes account for a very small percentage of our overall picture of crashes,” Santiago said. “But within this window, motorcycle crashes that involved fatalities jumped significantly.”
Teenage drivers are also at a high risk to be involved in a deadly crash. According to AAA, teenage drivers aged 16-17 are three times as likely to be involved in a deadly crash as adults.
That inexperience on the road is a primary contributor to many of the crashes and it’s something that Mary Kaye Soeckhart at Professional Driving School tries to address through driver’s education.
“You have your Smith System. You have your SEE (search, evaluate execute), those are defensive driving techniques that the students are taught when they come to a driver education class,” said Speckhart. “When you’re inexperienced, younger drivers they haven't gotten that muscle memory to do those things on the road.”
Meanwhile, even as gas prices reach all-time highs, Sgt. Santiago doesn’t see that causing fewer people to hit the roads this summer. He also says the primary responsibility for being a safe driver falls to the person behind the wheel.
Last year during this time frame, speeding citations of 20 mph or more over the speed limit accounted for 33,000 citations. More than 1,500 of those citations involved speeds of at least 100 mph.
“We never want to bank or hope that outside circumstances are going to positively help us with crash numbers,” Santiago said. “What we hope is that folks change their behaviors and do things a little more responsibly.”
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