Editorial: Drive safely, pay attention

Our View

Two years have gone by since a car driven by 21-year-old Maria Tiberi slammed into the back of a semi truck, killing the daughter of well-known Columbus TV sports anchor Dom Tiberi.

No one’s sure what happened.

The 21-year-old Ohio State University student struck the back of the truck around 11 p.m., but tests proved she had not been using her phone and had no alcohol or drugs in her system. She had not been driving erratically, yet there was no sign that Maria had attempted to apply her brakes.

“It is believed that a momentary lapse of attention or an unknown distraction was the probable cause of the accident,” investigators told The Columbus Dispatch months after the crash.

Dom Tiberi is now campaigning to make young drivers more aware of the dangers of being distracted behind the wheel. He has set up the Maria Tiberi Foundation to encourage better defensive driving, and last year Ohio Gov. John Kasich designated September as Safe Driving Awareness Month to honor Maria Tiberi and other victims of motor vehicle crashes.

“Too many youngsters die on the highways every day,” Tiberi has said. “I tell you kids out there, ‘Don’t do this to your parents. It’s been hell on earth for me and my entire family.’”

The Ohio State Highway Patrol has been stressing that motorists only commit to driving while buckled, focused and sober.

The District 9 region — which includes Gallia, Meigs, Lawrence, Scioto, Pike, Jackson, Ross, Vinton, Hocking and Athens counties — has seen 43 fatalities so far this year. That’s 13 more crash fatalities in 2015 than all of last year in the district.

Meigs County had recorded six crash fatalities so far this year while Gallia has logged three. In the district, Scioto county led with nine crash fatalities, followed by Meigs’ six, Athens and Jackson counties with five each, Ross, Vinton and Lawrence with four each, Pike with two and Hocking with one.

Already this year in Gallia County, there have been 479 crashes investigated by the state patrol, 20 less than all of last year. In Meigs County, OSHP has investigated 210 crashes — 20 more than in all of 2014.

The Patrol asks drivers to call 677 to report impaired drivers or drug activity.

— Michael Johnson

Our View