The Office of Criminal Justice Services kicked off its annual "Tie One on for Safety" campaign for the year, its goal being to promote a safe and sober holiday season.
Representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Ohio Department of Public Safety, including the Ohio State Highway Patrol, main sponsor Motorists Insurance Group in Ohio, law enforcement from around the state and other safety advocates gathered on Wednesday, Nov. 14, to launch the campaign.
The campaign encourages motorists to tie the MADD ribbon to their vehicles as a promise to be safe on the roadways this season. It also reminds drivers to buckle up.
"For 26 years, MADD has held our annual holiday red ribbon campaign, asking people throughout Ohio and nationwide to Tie One on for Safety in support of our heroes in law enforcement," said Doug Scoles, MADD Ohio Executive Director. "Display a MADD ribbon on your vehicle to demonstrate your commitment to make our vision of a nation without drunk driving a reality."
Last year alone, 410 people were killed in Ohio in 379 alcohol-related crashes - 27 of those deaths occurred between Thanksgiving and New Year's.
"The holidays are a joyous time of year, filled with celebrations, time with loved ones and good cheer, but one bad decision can change everything," said ODPS Director Thomas P. Charles. "I urge everyone to display a red ribbon and make good, sound decisions when it comes to safe and sober driving this holiday season."
Local law enforcement around the state are planning more than 9,700 hours of enforcement this holiday season, including 23 sobriety checkpoints and more than 3,500 hours of saturation patrols, reports the ODPS.
"We are urging motorists to make smart decisions - plan ahead and designate a sober driver or call a taxi to ensure that everyone makes it home safe," said Colonel John Born, Ohio State Highway Patrol superintendent. "If everyone does their part, we can save many families from the heartache of losing a loved one."
To put things in perspective, the Office of Criminal Justice Services-Traffic Safety Section and the Brown County Safe Communities program regularly release traffic safety statistics to compare the current year to the previous.
The newest statistics, released on Nov. 9, found that the number of fatalities for 2012 (through Nov. 9) are higher than the same period last year.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol - Traffic Statistics show 943 confirmed fatalities in 2012 as compared to 866 confirmed fatalities for the same period in 2011. As of Oct. 30, there had been 907 fatalities.
"We are required by the state to submit the statistics on a quarterly basis to compare where we are this year compared to last year," said Sue Basta, RN, PhD, and project director of Brown County Safe Communities.
The Office of Criminal Justice Services and the Ohio State Highway Patrol are divisions of the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
The BCSC program is really a coalition - which includes The News Democrat - that's funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ohio Department of Public Safety/Office of Criminal Services - Traffic Safety and administered by the Health-UC and the University of Cincinnati AHEC Program.
"Last year, we did really well with our number of fatal injury crashes, but this year unfortunately it seems to be climbing every time we get an update," Basta said.