WARREN - Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Brian Holt said local efforts to focus on impaired driving are paying off.
Holt, commander of the patrol's Warren Post, said troopers have been increasing OVI arrests - here and across the state - as well as stepping up the effort to enlist the assistance of the public in the ongoing effort to create safer highways.
Of the Warren Post's 4,840 OVI arrests last year, 585 were in Trumbull County. In 2011, the Warren Post arrested 3,451 impaired drivers, and 529 of those arrests were in Trumbull County.
However, Holt stressed the importance of educating the public and encouraging drivers to "make safe, responsible decisions."
"We can't fight the battle against impaired driving on our own," Holt remarked. "You can contribute to a safer Ohio by actively influencing friends and family to make safe, responsible decisions like planning ahead to designate a driver and insisting that everyone in the vehicle is buckled up."
As part of the patrol's mantra "Trooper Shield" and the ongoing effort to contribute to a safer Ohio, troopers across the state have had an increased focus on impaired driving enforcement.
Last year, OVI arrests made by the Ohio State Patrol across the state increased three percent and OVI-related crashes decreased by 14 percent. Last year's OVI arrests were up 10 percent from 2010.
Throughout 2012 troopers made 24,520 OVI arrests statewide. Of these, 23 percent included a speed violation and 17 percent included a violation for driving without a valid driver's license.
In addition, there were 12,168 OVI-related crashes on Ohio roadways, killing 431 and injuring 7,299. Impaired drivers were responsible for 40 percent of the fatal crashes in 2012.
Recently, Holt said OSP is working with the public to increase awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.
The six-month grace period designed to allow motorists to get used to the state's new ban on texting while driving expired last month, meaning, texting while behind the wheel is officially illegal in Ohio.
Holt said there have been crashes in Trumbull County where drivers said they were distracted, but so far no fatal crashes that OSP can conclusively say resulted from texting while driving.
"But it is a concern," Holt said. "Anything that impairs a driver or distracts a driver should be avoided. It's just not worth the risk."
OSP encourages the public to call #677 to report impaired drivers, drug activity or stranded motorists.