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Health Department Receives Safe Communities Grant Funding

October 5, 2015 - 2:08 PM

MOUNT VERNON - The Knox County Health Department has received a $25,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) to promote traffic safety awareness. The funding is used to coordinate the Knox County Safe Communities Coalition. The coalition works with local law enforcement and other agencies to educate and promote awareness of traffic safety issues such as seat belt restraint usage, impaired and distracted driving, speed, motorcycle safety, and teen driver safety.

Traffic fatalities have increased throughout the state as well as locally according to Lt. Mark Leach of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, “This year in Ohio there have been 782 traffic deaths, up 19% from last year. In Knox County there have been 11 fatal crashes since the beginning of 2014.” While the cause of the fatal accidents varies, Leach said one thing is clear: “Seatbelts Save Lives. In 70 percent of these crashes, seat belts were available, but not in use.”

JoAnn Kerr, a health educator with the Knox County Health Department, coordinates the local Safe Communities Coalition. “Wearing your seat belt is the first step to avoiding a fatality from a crash. Being ejected from a vehicle is almost always fatal.”

She also said distracted driving has become a huge factor in accidents, whether it is in the form of texting, eating, or adjusting the radio. “Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting,” said Kerr. “When traveling at 55mph, that's enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.

Besides distractions, drivers can be impaired by alcohol or drugs and are not only a danger to themselves, but to others on the road. “Too often drivers get behind the wheel or on a motorcycle and don’t realize the responsibility they have for themselves, their passengers, and others,” said Kerr.

So far this year, there have been five deaths in Knox County from traffic accidents. “The impact of a fatal crash affects not only those in the crash, but also family members, friends and co-workers,” said Kerr “Through education and awareness, it is our goal to help prevent these fatalities and make safe driving a priority.”

For more information or to get involved with the Knox County Safe Communities Coalition, contact Kerr at the health department at 392-2200, ext. 2232 or
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