OSHP: Traffic fatalities on the rise

WOOD COUNTY, OH (Toledo News Now) – The Ohio State Highway Patrol said it is fighting a deadly problem. Fatal traffic crashes are on the rise, especially in Wood County.

Starting this week highway patrol is sending out three regional tactical squads to target speeding, tailgating, and other traffic violations that lead to crashes. The goal is to reduce injuries and fatalities, plus raise awareness about roadway safety.

OSHP said crash fatalities in Ohio are up 12 percent. Statistics show many of the crashes are happening in Wood County.

"I-75, which is a main artery that gets you to Michigan and even southern parts of Ohio. We have a lot of traffic. We have colleges. We have a lot of out-of-state drivers that aren't too familiar with the traffic laws here in the state of Ohio," said Sgt. Angel Burgos of the Northwest Crash Reduction Tactical Squad.

That is why the region's new tactical squad, one of three in the state, said it will pay extra attention to the area this summer.

"Speeding, failure to yield, and following too close violations tend to be a big problem in our area, and our goal is to be very proactive in enforcing those laws," explained Burgos.

The tactical squads will be working with local highway patrol posts, which post commanders said will allow them to focus on other traffic issues and increase the amount of troopers on the roads.

"We can have a high visibility and have an impact on the number of people that see us. You see a state trooper, you see a police officer on the side of the road, or going down a road, you change behaviors. That is natural," said Lt. Dean Laubacher, a Bowling Green highway patrol post commander.

Still, OSHP troopers said they can only do so much, the rest depends on public support.

"If I said 30 percent of our fatalities are alcohol related, that's 30 percent fatalities that we could reduce if we had a little cooperation from the public, in regards to not drinking and driving," said Laubacher.

Highway patrol said that small portion of cooperation will make a big difference.

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