Fatal crashes, DUI arrests up over Thanksgiving holiday

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – The Ohio State Highway Patrol reported an uptick in fatal crashes and DUI arrests over the Thanksgiving holiday and weekend. However, there were no local fatalities in Belmont County during that time period.

Sgt. Brian McFarland of the highway patrol reviewed the statistics.

“We were up in fatal crashes statewide. There were 16 fatal crashes in the whole state. Last year there were nine fatal crashes. Almost half of those crashes, the people involved that were killed were not wearing seat belts.”

McFarland said the state of Ohio saw 542 arrests for operating vehicles while under the influence.

“Which was up 15 percent from the previous year. Then we also had an increase in seat belt violations. A 15-percent increase on that,” he said.

He referenced reports from Wednesday evening through Sunday.

“Locally at the post level, we issued 134 tickets and 257 non-enforcement tickets,” McFarland said, adding that these included warnings and notifications of defects.

“With the motoring public, we had 17 crashes and seven OVI arrests. We also issued 35 seat belt citations,” McFarland said, adding the post did not have immediate access to local numbers from last year for comparison.

He said the region saw no fatalities among the crashes.

The post had been bracing for particularly high-volume days around the holiday.

“The most traffic would be the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and obviously with the holiday shopping and Black Friday, the morning and afternoon on Friday was a significant traffic volume. … Saturday evening was a busy night, and Thursday night was a busy night.”

However, he said the crashes were not grouped in any specific day.

Heavy traffic also may have resulted in reducing accidents.

“The traffic, in my opinion, was so heavy it was difficult for many violations to occur due to the amount of traffic volume,” he said. “People maintained their distance on the highways, between the cars. When traffic gets to be that high, it’s a difficult time for people to speed. That’s what we’ve seen.”

He said troopers were out in force with every available officer.

“There was nothing different from previous years,” he said. “Nothing was different that we haven’t seen in the past. Our main goal was for no fatalities to happen and to minimize as many crashes as possible.”