Deadliest days of summer are here; officials advise limiting distractions while driving

LIMA — Collin Worthington wants parents to model safe driving habits for their teenagers.

“Lead by example,” said Worthington, trauma program manager for Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center. “Put the phone down. Limit distractions like eating or drinking while driving.”

Worthington and public safety officials are reminding drivers to wear their seatbelts, avoid distractions and stay sober while driving this summer.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol reports that roughly one-third of fatal traffic crashes in the last five years occurred between Memorial Day and Labor Day, a period unofficially known as the “100 deadliest days of summer” because of the increase in traffic.

Allen County reported 646 crashes between Memorial and Labor Day last year, including one fatal crash and 21 crashes resulting in serious injury, OSHP data show.

The most common crash sites in Allen County were on Interstate 75, state Route 81, state Route 117 and state Route 309.

Teens were involved in 110 of those crashes.

When Worthington looks at these statistics, he tells parents to set limits for their teenagers.

“Don’t let them out on the roads in the middle of the night when they’re more drowsy,” Worthington said.

Parents should pay attention to side effects from their teen’s medications too, as common medications like Benadryl cause drowsiness that can affect a person’s ability to drive safely, Worthington said. And when it comes to phones, parents should install hands-free devices in their vehicles so teens aren’t checking their phones while driving, he said.

“It all falls back to those same risk factors: distracted driving, drowsy driving and (driving) over the speed limit,” Worthington said.

Statewide, traffic fatalities declined by 3% last summer compared to the previous year, with 397 deaths reported between Memorial and Labor Day, according to OSHP.

State Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Charles A. Jones said in a news release that while the agency is encouraged by that trend, “there is still much work to be done.”

“We need everyone to drive sober, obey the speed limit, avoid distractions and buckle up every trip,” Jones said. “If you’re on a motorcycle, ride defensively and wear proper gear. Your safety, and the safety of others on our roadways, remains our top priority.”