This past weekend, I drove to Cincinnati for my friend’s wedding. The four-hour drive from Cleveland is one with which I am relatively familiar – I lived in nearby Dayton for a while and often visited family and friends back home.
But one thing was different this trip: the signage.
Along the I-71 trip, I saw on display for the first time the state’s new traffic safety initiative messaging. The 130 Ohio Department of Transportation digital message boards across the state now feature statistics on the year-to-date traffic deaths.
As of today, the signs read, “Traffic Deaths This Year: 525,” a number that, unfortunately, has risen since I saw the signs over the weekend.
I first saw this messaging last year while covering the automotive beat for EHS Today’s sister publication, IndustryWeek, a task that often brought me to the Motor City.
Michigan had adopted the messaging as part of the National Strategy on Highway Safety, “Toward Zero Deaths (TZD).”
During three months this year, traffic deaths in Ohio were higher than in 2014, and May 2015 was the worst May in 10 years, ODOT said.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol Superintendent Paul Pride called the increase in fatalities “unsettling.”
“We hope that by coupling the patrol’s enforcement with the highly visible ODOT signs, we can impact driver behavior and save some lives,” Pride said.
The signs are regularly updated to reflect new statistics, a sobering reminder of the lives lost on the state’s roadways.
While using signage to impart safety information certainly is nothing new, it is encouraging as someone in the safety world to see new efforts being taken to address the general public.
Seeing the signs on the highway definitely stuck with me, and during my drive to the wedding, I made a note to check the signs on my return.
Any time we can make safety a conscious thought, we’ve achieved a small victory.