Safety initiatives for Ohio Turnpike announced

Press Staff Writer

The Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission recently announced traffic initiatives for 2024 to improve roadway safety along the 241-mile turnpike, which traverses through 13 counties across northern Ohio.
The initiatives include plans for high-visibility patrols where troopers will be focusing on distracted driving violations, speed enforcement and safety belt usage. These initiatives are aimed at areas where troopers can have the biggest impact on changing driving behaviors.
“Far too often, our troopers, our partners at the turnpike and first responders see the tragedies that occur on our roadways,” said Ohio State Highway Patrol Sergeant Ryan E. Purpura. “Many of these tragedies are preventable and ultimately result in loss of life or injury to others. Our partnership with the Ohio Turnpike is an example of how we can make our roadways safer for those who live, work and travel through our state.”
From 2019 through 2023, on the Ohio Turnpike, there were 3,800 speed-related crashes, where 16 people lost their lives and 1,518 people were injured; 348 crashes where a distraction was a contributing factor, causing one life to be lost and injuring 148 others; and there were 20 fatalities where a safety belt was available, but not in use.
The OTIC also highlighted a few of its year-round safety campaigns, which include Move Over, Slow Down and Work Zone Awareness.
Chris Matta, chief engineer of the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission, called on motorists to be self-aware of dangerous behaviors behind the wheel – such as aggressive and distracted driving – to reduce crashes and prevent injuries and fatalities on the 241-mile toll road and elsewhere.
“Improving roadway safety is a shared responsibility, and changing driver behavior will not happen overnight. It will be an ongoing effort requiring years of hard work on all fronts,” said Matta. “But that hard work will be worth it when we consider the thousands of lives lost each year on our state’s roadways.”
To combat distracted driving, Ohio’s phone down while driving law became enforceable with fines in October 2023.
According to the Highway Patrol, speeding, driving off the road, improper lane changes, failing to maintain a safe following distance and failure to yield the right of way are the top causes of vehicle crashes on the turnpike.
Speeding accounts for nearly 35 percent of the crashes.
Regarding improvements to the turnpike’s infrastructure, Matta said the commission will continue to fund projects that maintain the safety of its roadways, bridges, lighting, and signage as well as fund new projects, such as overhead message boards, variable speed limit signs, camera systems, and reflective pavement markings to improve roadway visibility at night and during wet conditions.


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