Each year, the Ohio Department of Public Safety compiles data on automobile accidents statewide. The 2015 statistics tell a grim story for residents in rural areas of the state. One look at the numbers and it becomes clear that cities are seeing a minor reduction in highway deaths. Yet, at the same time, there are drastic increases in the number of auto related deaths in rural counties around Ohio. While much of the data compiled is specifically of interest to urban planners and police agencies, there are some important facts that all Ohioans should know.
Fewer Deaths Does Not Equal Less Danger
If one looks at the 2015 highway fatalities map, it is clear that urban areas like Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo account for the majority of the state’s highway deaths. However, the important information is how many auto crash deaths occur in proportion to the population of the area where the accidents happened. Similarly, much of the increase in statewide auto accident deaths comes from smaller locations. So, while Columbus may still have one of the highest raw numbers, consider much smaller Delaware County.
For instance, according to the 2010 census, Franklin County has roughly 1.2 million residents with just 79 fatal crashes. This means about .65 percent of the total population. And 85 people died in those crashes. Yet, the much smaller Delaware County saw an increase of 11 more deaths in 2016 than in 2015. Likewise, Ross County saw an increase by 13. Meanwhile deaths in Franklin County decreased by four. While these statistics may seem relatively minor, they do show trends that motorists should be aware of when driving. In other words, less population does not necessarily mean safer driving.
Young Drivers Are the Most Dangerous Group for Alcohol-Related Crashes
It is no mystery that drunk driving kills. Most people also would not find it surprising that young drivers are more likely to be intoxicated. Whether due to immaturity, access, or poor judgment, drivers between the ages of 21 and 25 are by far the highest statistically notable group for drunk driving. There were 1,269 people injured by this group of intoxicated drivers last year alone. To put this in perspective, consider that this relatively small group accounted for nearly 20 percent of all alcohol-related auto injuries in Ohio. This includes the drivers, passengers, and other innocent parties.
Drunk Driving is Not Necessarily Worse in Highly Populated Areas
Alcohol may be the one factor that transcends population in Ohio. Accounting for population, Franklin County’s 750 alcohol-related auto injuries equate to an incident rate of .07 percent of the population, while smaller nearby Delaware County is at .08 percent.. This means a better chance of being injured in a drunk driving accident in the smaller, suburban county than in Columbus. We see this across the state. Even in places like tiny Harrison County, in the northwest corner of the state, the incident rate climbs to 1.0 percent.
Indeed, one should use as much, if not perhaps more, caution in rural areas than in urban areas. Ultimately, 31 percent of all traffic-related fatalities in Ohio involve a drunk driver.
What to Do if Involved in an Automobile Crash
If you are involved in an auto crash, whether driving or as a passenger, your first concern should be making sure you are safe. In most accidents that are not life-threatening, you should plan to follow some very basic steps to keep you and others safe.
No. 1 – Where Are You?
If you are incapacitated or killed, you cannot help anyone else. In most cases involving small, minor accidents, you should take an inventory of your location in relation to the roadway. Is your vehicle in the middle of the road or in danger of being hit by traffic? If so, you need to get off the road to a shoulder or another safe place. If your vehicle cannot be moved, you should exit the vehicle and get to safety where you will not be hit by passing vehicles. This assumes, of course, that you are not so injured that moving would be dangerous. Ultimately, you must decide whether it is safer to stay put or move, but if you are at risk of being hit again, your only choice may be getting out and moving to safety.
No. 2 – Are you okay?
Once you are sure you are not in harm’s way, take a quick an inventory of your own injuries. Are you in pain? Are you bleeding? Do you have any obvious broken bones? These things may seem very basic, but when you are involved in a car crash, there can be a period of shock and confusion. You want to make sure you are okay before you try to help others or moving around.
No. 3 – Is everyone else okay?
Once you have determined that you are safe, check to see if anyone else needs assistance. Do not offer medical attention unless you are a licensed and trained medical professional. Call for help and give emergency responders a clear and honest account of the scene, the number of vehicles involved, the number of people who appear to be injured and so forth.
How to Protect Your Legal Rights in An Accident
In addition to taking actions to protect your safety and that of others, you can also do a few things to ensure you protect your legal rights too. The Ohio Car Accident Lawyers offers a terrific discussion of what to do after a Columbus car crash. Even if you do not think you are seriously injured, you should plan to see your doctor right away. Many injuries may not be apparent until several days or even weeks after an accident. Early treatment can prevent unneeded pain and can sometimes even mean a quicker recovery.
Once you have taken care of your health, contact an experienced Columbus auto accident lawyer who can discuss your case and offer advice on how to get the most for your injuries. No two cases are the same, so there is no canned answer to your legal questions. There are strict rules for how long you can wait to be compensated for your injuries, so you should contact an attorney right away.