The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

January 12, 2013

Young drivers speed and crash more than other age groups

LIMA — Speed limits serve a purpose and police officials have a reason for enforcing them.

Speeding reduces reaction time and increases the severity of traffic crashes, said Lt. Brad Zemelka, commander of the Lima post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. That’s why the patrol urges motorists to obey the posted speed limit and to drive within their abilities.

“Excessive speed greatly reduces a driver’s ability to negotiate an unexpected curve, to stop within an assured clear distance ahead or to steer safely around a hazardous object,” Zemelka said. “Speeding driversput themselves, their passengers and other drivers at tremendous risk.”

An analysis of 2011 traffic data for Ohio showed 30 percent of all fatal crashes were caused by speed-related factors, resulting in 479 deaths and 72,536 injuries. Zemelka emphasized the data show the risk of serious injury and death increases dramatically at higher rates of speed.

The second leading cause of fatal crashes in 2011 - improper lane change/improper passing/drove off the road - accounted for another 13 percent of all fatal crashes.

Young drivers, ages 16 to 25, caused 37 percent of the 124,948 speed-related traffic crashes in 2011. This same group of drivers received the most speeding citations - 29 percent of the total 289,554 speed citations issued by the Highway Patrol.

In 2012, the patrol partnered with the Ohio High School Athletic Association to form a teen driver safety program, You Are In Control, which aims to educate young drivers about the consequences of dangerous driving habits and to reinforce safety, responsibility and awareness.

Teen drivers must understand that they are in control of the vehicle and that lives are in their hands, Zemelka said.

To learn more about the You Are In Control teen driver safety program, visit its Facebook page at http://j.mp/VUFgpR.

The patrol also urges drivers to call 677 to report impaired drivers or suspected drug activity.

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