By Kelsey Nevius
I’m sure that while driving down any major highway, 75 for us University of Findlay students, you’ve seen the amount of traffic due to road construction. While construction is a thing we’ve pretty much gotten used to by now thanks to the additional construction currently going on down Main Street, you may also be somewhat familiar with the digital boards by the side of the roads. Some of these may be telling you how long it’s going to take until you arrive at a certain exit, but the ones that are the most new and unfamiliar are the traffic death signs. I’ve seen these quite frequently, and I’ve noticed that they’re popping up more and more places. So, why do we have these signs, and what exactly are they intended to do?
The reason of why the signs are so prevalent was my first question. According to the news website WKYC.com in their article “Ohio Message Boards to Signal Safety,” “As of the last week of June, Ohio has recorded 487 traffic deaths, 76 more in 2015 than at the same time a year ago. This 19 percent increase has inspired the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Department of Transportation to join forces with a new initiative utilizing ODOT digital message boards to spread traffic safety messages.”
Because of this significant increase in traffic deaths, the Highway Patrol decided to warn drivers on the road to drive safely by showing them the death toll. In the article, it states that many drivers cause or are affected by these traffic accidents when they drive under the influence of alcohol or drive without a seatbelt. Because of these reasons, they are hoping the signs will get through to people and urge them to never drive without seatbelts on or while under the effects of alcohol.
While displaying the death toll of traffic deaths is having an effect on drivers, the State Highway Patrol and ODOT take it one step further by updating the number every week. Also according to the article on WKYC.com, “Digital message boards will display these messages 24 hours per day on weekends and from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weekdays, unless there is a higher priority message. The boards will update with the new year-to-date number of confirmed deaths every Thursday night.” They hope this will make people realize that the deaths are adding up, and that these are actual people instead of just numbers on a board. Hopefully, drivers will keep the numbers on the board in mind when they are not exercising caution while on the road.
I think that this is a great idea. While we may drive by them frequently and think nothing of them, when you are told how many deaths are caused by things we can fix, it really should influence you. By just wearing our seatbelts or choosing not to drive while intoxicated, hopefully we can decrease the massive increase of traffic deaths we’ve had in the past year. The next time you pass one of the signs, instead of brushing it off and glancing away, think about what it means and take into account what it’s trying to do.