GALLIPOLIS — The Ohio State Highway Patrol is urging mature drivers to cautiously examine their driving habits.
OSHP officials say a majority of deaths during the past year in both Gallia and Meigs counties have been more heavily represented by the 55-and-older age bracket.
Lt. Max Norris, commander of OSHP’s Gallia-Meigs post on Jackson Pike, said 10 fatalities have been totaled over past year in both counties and the six out of the 10 individuals killed were over the age of 55.
“The (collision fatality phenomena) is kind of specific to this area right now,” Norris said. “We watch trends. The age represented before was 25 to 55. We would call that the median age. That was what we had seen over the last few years (for high collision fatality statistics). We also had problems with ATV’s on roadways and motorcycle crashes. We experienced a sharp drop in that. We had several programs to address motorcycles and ATV’s on the roadway. Some areas would have problems with youthful drivers. However, we do not at this time.”
According to Norris, youthful drivers are considered age 25 and younger. Mature drivers are considered at or older than 55.
Of the drivers in question that have died over the course of the year, Norris said they appear to be the drivers at fault in collisions. He warns drivers to not become complacent and maintain vigilance by using safe-driving techniques.
“As people become older they become more comfortable (driving),” Norris said. “Sometimes they pay less attention to whether they’ve come to a complete stop. Sometimes bad habits develop. Sometimes as a body ages, driving skills can deteriorate. Other times, a collision may come from a medical condition. Eyesight may not be what it was or reaction time is off.”
Norris urges drivers to be careful when taking prescribed medications as that may also affect an individual’s ability to operate a vehicle.
“A lot of times it comes down to self-realization. If you know someone that shouldn’t be driving, one should take steps to have (the questioned individual’s) skills tested,” Norris said. “Maybe people don’t realize how their medication affects them. Sometimes a friend or family member may need to step in and advise them. I always ask people to point out bad habits to other drivers as, a lot of times, people don’t realize they’re doing (a bad habit).”
According to Norris, state troopers will be handing out information at Walmart in Gallipolis early next week and speaking with members of the public about their driving habits. He said people are welcome to approach troopers with their concerns or questions to promote better safety discipline for all members of the driving public.
Late this year or early next year, Norris said the local OSHP post will attempt to have a driving simulator in the area to better explain factors such as how slow reaction time can affect the possibility of raising collision risks.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.