LIMA — Half of all crashes in cities, and a third of those in rural areas, take place at intersections.
Transportation and safety officials on Thursday encouraged drivers through the holiday season and winter to focus on driving, especially at intersections.
Following too close and failure to yield are the most common mistakes made, Ohio Department of Transportation District 1 Deputy Director Kirk Slusher said.
“We want drivers to be engaged in driving. Driver distraction is the No. 1 cause of accidents,” Slusher said. “We all have busy schedules, but drivers need to pay attention to what they’re doing when they’re behind the wheel. You can take care of things once you arrive safely at your destination.”
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, there were 13,500 intersection-related crashes in Ohio. In those crashes, 5,200 people were injured and 27 people died.
Through all of 2012, 187 people died as a result of failure to yield.
“It breaks your heart. Someone died as a result of a poor choice, and it’s such a needless waste,” Ohio State Highway Patrol Sgt. Tim Grigsby said. “Drivers need to treat driving as something other than a secondary function. When you’re driving a car, it should be your primary focus.”
ODOT has increased efforts to improve safety at intersections, with things such as more reflective traffic lights, raised medians and design changes. Engineering can do only so much, and drivers need to be aware of distractions that lead to crashes, especially at places where several vehicles are moving at the same time, Slusher said.
Grigsby said he knows his target audience: new drivers.
“Most of the failure to yield crashes happen with drivers between 16 and 25, between noon and 6 p.m., so that’s work-related, youthful drivers,” Grigsby said. “We hope education helps that.”