State troopers ramp up patrols over holiday weekend as drivers head back out on roads

State troopers ramp up patrols over holiday weekend as drivers head back out on roads

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Traffic is picking up again as Ohio opens back up, and state troopers are increasing patrols over Memorial Day Weekend.

Memorial Day is one of the deadliest holidays of the year for drivers.

19 Investigates is taking a look at how the stay-at-home order during the coronavirus pandemic affected traffic stops, and what drivers should watch out for this holiday weekend.

Statewide, traffic deaths have dropped so far this year compared to last year by 42 deaths, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

“Ohioans did a pretty good job, by and large, following the stay at home order and limiting their travel to essential trips only,” said Sgt. Ray Santiago with Ohio State Highway Patrol.

He said traffic went down and so did citations from mid-March to mid-May, when the governor’s stay-at-home order was in effect.

OSHP PIC HERE

Statewide, enforcement stops were down year-to-date from last year by more than 83,000.

Troopers investigated about 5,200 less crashes, and OVI enforcement dropped by more than 3,400 citations.

19 Investigates found the only activity up during this time was distracted driving violations.

You can read more of the statistics from state patrol here:

https://statepatrol.ohio.gov/statistics/default.asp

But emptier highways led to another problem—extreme speeding.

OSHP PIC HERE

“There was a segment of folks who saw the open road as an invitation to go a little faster than they should. But we were definitely out there to remind them to stay safe,” Santiago said.

Drivers going 100 miles per hour or more were up by more than 100 tickets this year compared to the last two years-- from the end of March to mid-May.

State troopers wrote 455 citations for drivers speeding 100 miles per hour or more in those weeks.

But overall, speeding tickets dropped dramatically during that two month time period.

You can see in the graphic from OSHP above, speeding citations were down to 5,688 citations across the state, as opposed to 59,410 citations in 2018 and 49,854 citations in 2019.

Tickets and accidents will likely go up over the holiday weekend as traffic on our highways and roads increases.

Sgt. Santiago said drivers who get pulled over will see some changes due to the pandemic.

“There may be times where a trooper approaches your vehicle wearing a mask. Or there may be times when we ask for your driver's license, we don't necessarily take it, we ask you or someone to read the numbers off of it,” he said.

“But the best way to keep socially distant is to obey the traffic laws, and hopefully we don't have to interact in that way,” Santiago said.

Last year, over the four day Memorial Day weekend, OSHP reported 15 people died in vehicle crashes.

About half of those fatal crashes involved alcohol or drugs.

Troopers arrested 576 people for drunken driving that weekend.

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