Ohio State Highway Patrol

The State Highway Patrol says more than 270 citations have been given to drivers for texting or using a cellphone behind the wheel in violation of Ohio law since the statewide texting ban took effect about a year ago.

Texting while driving is a secondary offense for those 18 and older. That means an officer has to stop a driver for another offense first, such as speeding.

Younger drivers are prohibited from texting or using cellphones or other hand-held devices and it's a primary offense. 

Preliminary data show Ohio had a record-low number of traffic deaths in 2013.

The State Highway Patrol reports at least 923 people died on Ohio roads during the past year. Additional deaths are under review but have not been confirmed as traffic fatalities, making the possible total 981.

It would be the first time Ohio has had fewer than 1,000 traffic deaths since record-keeping began in 1936. The previous low was 1,016 in 2011. In 2012, Ohio had 1,122 deaths.

There’s an online registry in Ohio that identifies habitual drunk drivers but recently, there have been cases where there have been gaps in that database. Staff Lieutenant Anne Ralston of the Ohio State Highway Patrol says the agency has upgraded the registry so that it compiles up to date information automatically from already existing electronic records.

“Prior to the revamp of the system, we only had 348 people who were habitual offenders who were being captured on the registry. Now after the revamp, we have over 5300 habitual offenders on the registry.”

Auto club AAA estimates more than 3.5 million Ohioans will travel at least 50 miles from home during the year-end holiday period running from Saturday through New Year's Day.

That number is up slightly from last year. AAA says travel during this holiday season has increased with economic improvements in recent years. Average gas prices now are expected to remain lower during the holidays than they were a year ago.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol says 13 people lost their lives in crashes on Ohio’s roadways during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend between midnight on November 27th to midnight Monday morning. The Patrol’s Sargent Vincent Shirey says the department also cracked down on drunk and impaired drivers.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol has reported more drug-related arrests and seizures in Ohio in the first half of this year compared with the first six months of 2012. 

Recently released patrol statistics show troopers made 4,728 drug arrests January through June for an 18 percent increase over the same period last year. The Dayton Daily News reports that is a rise of 42 percent compared to the average number of arrests from 2010 through 2012.

An American Civil Liberties Union report on police departments' increased use of license-plate scanning notes that the scanning policy of the State Highway Patrol in Ohio is more protective of privacy than some.

The report released Wednesday found scanners affixed to police cars, bridges or buildings around the country capture license plate images providing records of people's location and movement. That information often goes into databases that can be reviewed much later.

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol - pilot error was the cause of a crash at the Vectren Dayton Air Show last month.  Killed in the June 22nd accident were the plane’s owner, 44 year-old Jane Wicker – who was performing a wing walking stunt at the time - and the pilot 64 year-old Charlie Schwenker.

The report cites slow speed and a lack of lift, causing the plane to stall and then crash before thousands of spectators. Lt. Anne Ralston says the Patrol’s report is based on eye-witness accounts, video, and measurements taken at the crash site.

State troopers in Ohio are joining with state police in four neighboring states to crack down and increase awareness about distracted driving.

The week-long effort that begins Sunday is part of a move to reduce distracted driving crashes.

The State Highway Patrol in Ohio says the project will also involve the Kentucky State Police, Indiana State Police, Pennsylvania State Police and the West Virginia State Police.

Ohio Patrol Superintendent Colonel John Born says taking your eyes off the road for even a few seconds can be dangerous.

The State Highway Patrol says increased efforts to crack down on drug trafficking and other crimes are paying off with more calls from the public to its revamped hotline and greater use of its unit that follows up on tips and helps other agencies.

The #677 number replaced the old hotline a year ago. The patrol gets more than 4,000 calls per month and has begun trying to track more specifically how many come through the hotline.

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