NEWARK – The Licking County Health Department’s Safe Communities Coalition reported six fatalities from five vehicle crashes during the fourth quarter of 2016, October 1 to December 31, in the county.
Of the six fatalities, one was a pedestrian, one was a motorcyclist without a helmet, and three were not wearing seat belts. Two of the fatalities involved drugged driving and one is suspected to have involved texting and driving. During the same time frame in 2015, there were seven reported fatal crashes. During 2016, there were 20 total fatalities from 19 crashes reported in Licking County. For reference, in 2015, there were 23 fatalities from 21 crashes.
Many believe that driving in large vehicles, like trucks or SUVs, offer greater protection during a vehicle crash. Sadly, this is not the case. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 61 percent of pickup truck occupants who were killed in crashes were not buckled up. That’s compared to 42 percent of passenger car occupants who were killed while not wearing their seat belts.
As we move into 2017, the Safe Communities Coalition wants to remind divers to focus on driving. Distracted driving, of any kind, leads to devastating consequences. Many of the causes of fatal crashes are a result of diver error: going left of center, failure to yield, failure to control, etc. Drivers are not paying attention and even simple mistakes can often have deadly results. Distracted driving is anything that takes hands, eyes, or mind off of the task of driving.
The Safe Communities Coalition is a group of community partners with a goal to reduce traffic-related deaths. It is administered at the Licking County Health Department and provides traffic fatality updates quarterly to the community. It is the Coalition’s mission to educate the public about the consequences of dangerous driving behaviors such as drinking and driving, reckless driving, distracted driving, not wearing a seat belt, and not wearing a helmet when operating a motorcycle. The fatality updates keep the public informed on the common driving behaviors that cause fatal crashes and educate the community to create safer drivers.