LIMA — Hundreds of people are injured, killed and lives altered forever on the roadways in Ohio because somebody drove after using drugs.
So far this year, there have been 3,574 crashes in which the driver was on drugs, the Ohio Department of Public Safety reported. The total number of crashes involving drivers on drugs is up 25 percent in the past four years.
Commander Lt. David Brown of the Lima post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol credits officer training and a heightened awareness in looking for drivers impaired by drugs including catching them before they crash.
“Officers are recognizing the signs of drug impairment,” he said.
All troopers in the state have received advanced training to recognize the effects various drugs have on people. For example, a person on heroin will appear very tired.
Signs that someone is on drugs can be enough to take additional steps to try to determine if the person is on drugs, such as a urine test, Brown said.
While impaired driving from alcohol remains the majority of all arrests for impaired driving, Brown said troopers are seeing more drugged drivers. He blames the increase in the use of heroin as part of the reason but said marijuana is another drug widely abused.
Besides enforcement, which troopers will be on the roadways in force for the holidays to ensure the safety of other motorists, the state is using message signs on the highways to remind people of the drugged driving problem.
Highway signs will display messaging alerts to travelers in hopes of raising awareness and to get people to start talking about the drug problem, including parents talking to their children.
Reach Greg Sowinski at 567-242-0464 or on Twitter @Lima_Sowinski.