MIAMI COUNTY — Miami County Public Health is using its presence at the Miami County Fair to spread the word through its campaign urging people to “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” with the help of the county’s law enforcement.
The department was awarded the “Safe Communities” grant through the Ohio Traffic Safety Office for the second year in a row, according to Vickie Henry. The Safe Communities program is aimed to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries by encouraging those to use seat belts and eliminate impaired driving by designating a driver and using services like Uber or Lyft.
“Currently one-third of traffic fatalities in the U.S. involve drunk drivers,” she said. “On average, more than 10,000 people die each year in drunk driving crashes.”
In 2015, that number was 10,265 deaths across the nation due to impaired drivers — a 3 percent increase from the year before.
“In 2015, Miami County had 28 fatal crashes, nearly 30 percent of those involved alcohol,” she said. “Miami County Safe Communities wants to remind the community to designate a sober and reliable driver to keep people safer.”
Henry recommended the “Safer Ride” phone application, which allows the user to call a taxi or predetermined friend and it will identify the user’s location to be picked up.
Fair attendees can sign a pledge to keep themselves and other loved ones safe on the roadways.
The kick-off was held on Friday afternoon and featured Laura Cruea, whose son, 17-year-old Joey Seger was killed by an impaired driver.
“He was an innocent victim … I come out because I don’t want another family to go through what I do every day. I miss Joey still so very much,” Cruea said. “He was a senior at Piqua High School. He should have been here today.
“Be responsible. Plan ahead. If you know you are going to be out and if you know you are going to drink, plan ahead. Call an Uber, call a taxi, call a friend. Stay where you are at. It’s never OK to drink and drive,” Cruea said.
Cruea thanked local law enforcement, especially Miami County Sheriff’s Office, who handled her son’s fatal crash.
“Every ticket, every arrest does make a difference,” she said. “There are saving lives one at a time. From my family to them, I say thank you.”
Cruea uses her son’s story to help with mock crashes and speak to student groups throughout the year.
The Miami County Public Health’s booth is located by the Secretary’s Office. For more information, visit www.miamicountypublichealth.net.
Follow Melanie Yingst on Twitter @Troydailynews
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