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OSHP: 2016 OVI numbers staggering

Government officials are closing the book on 2016, and that means they're looking critically at the good and the bad.

That includes the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which says crashes were down in Jefferson and Harrison counties in 2016.

“That means the programs we are implementing are working. The things we're doing are working and our overall enforcement, we saw a rise in safety belt enforcement and our overall enforcement was about the same as last year,” Lt. Joe Fetty said.

However, the number of OVIs was staggering.

The information released Friday by the post in Wintersville shows that 51 drivers were using drugs when they crashed, and 40 of those took place in Jefferson County.

Fetty says that number is way too high.

“That number, to me, is just staggering,” he said. “It's high. Even our overall numbers for OVIs are high. We ended up with just about 367 for the year, and it equates to one a day. So our guys are averaging one OVI arrest in a two-county area, per day, which to me is too many.”

Fetty says that 2016 was the first year that the state patrol differentiated a drug impaired crash from an alcohol impaired crash. Fetty expects the numbers to rise as the agency continues this practice.

“We're going to continue into 2017 focusing on OVI related issues as well as safety belt issues because those are the ones killing our residents in our two counties,” Fetty said.

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