Lives in our own hands

Most people understand the risk impaired drivers — those intoxicated from drinking alcohol or using other drugs or distracted by utilizing smartphones improperly — pose to the traveling public.

It turns out we can blame an even greater threat on … ourselves.

Safety-related statistics from the Labor Day weekend have been reported by the Ohio State Highway Patrol. During the long weekend, Highway Patrol troopers arrested 845 people for driving while impaired. Another 536 were apprehended for drug offenses.

Unfortunately, the number of people caught driving after drinking too much was up in comparison to last year. That means many more of us were at risk on Ohio roadways through no fault of our own.

But perhaps the most eye-catching statistics involved use of safety belts. Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers issued a whopping 6,171 citations to people, including both drivers and passengers, who were caught not wearing lap and shoulder belts. Troopers take the slogan “Click It or Ticket” seriously.

Twenty-four people died in 22 Labor Day weekend traffic accidents in the Buckeye State. Of that number, four fatalities were related to alcohol.

However, 11 people “lost their lives by not using a seatbelt or wearing a motorcycle helmet,” according to the Highway Patrol.

In other words, we are nearly three times as likely to die from not wearing safety belts in cars or helmets while on motorcycles as we are to perish in alcohol-related crashes.

That may be something you should remember the next time you decide to go for a drive without buckling up or take a ride without putting on a helmet.

The price you pay for that “freedom” you feel because you are not restrained may be your life.