Safe Communities works to reduce fatalities on Clermont County highways

“I know that drinking and driving is a serious matter. Some of my friends do it, others do not. It all depends on who you hang out with.”

Those were the words spoken by a Batavia High School junior (who wanted to remain nameless) before a M.A.D.D. presentation called “The Spot” at the high school Sept. 11.

Sponsored by Safe Communities, which is a Clermont County program under the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the presentation is a multi-media three-screen presentation designed to give students an insight into making the right choices.

M.A.D.D. regional assembly presenter Trey Brown said that “The Spot” is all about understanding the possible consequences of drinking and driving.

“It is a personalized look at the tragic results of making the wrong choices,” he said. “It is designed for grades seven through 12. We know that teens are constantly in an environment that urges them to use alcohol or drugs at a young age. ‘The Spot’ encourages teens like the anonymous junior at Batavia High School to take a long hard look at the people they hang out with and the messages that they receive.”

According to Clermont County Health Department Safe Communities Coordinator Martha Enriquez, the message is clear.

“All of our work is focused on all forms of traffic fatality reduction,” she said. “We encourage high schools to participate in these kinds of assemblies. Clermont County is one of the highest traffic fatality counties in the state. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for people age 15-22. We partner with any agency that is concerned with driving and traffic safety. In addition to M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), we work closely with other citizen groups, the schools, and law enforcement agencies.”

Enriquez adds that the success of programs like Safe Communities is measured largely in part on the number of traffic fatalities that the county has in any given year.

“We hope that our work makes a difference,” she said. “It is a difficult thing to measure. Assembly presentations at high schools are one way that we feel increases young people’s abilities to make good choices. You drink, you drive, you lose.”

Safe Communities is also very concerned with the number of motorcycle crash fatalities that have occurred in Clermont County since the first of the year.

A second event sponsored by Safe Communities was the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s motorcycle safety display at Eastgate Harley Davidson Sept. 16.

“Since the first of the year, there have been five motorcyclists who have lost their lives in traffic crashes on the county roads,” said Enriquez. “This is of concern to us as well. In 2005, there were only three. So in addition to spreading awareness of the consequences of drinking and driving, we are working with the county’s law enforcement officers to increase safety and awareness of motorcyclists and other drivers.”

Enriquez says that the ultimate goal of Safe Communities is to spread awareness and work with all interested local groups and law enforcement to reduce (and hopefully eliminate) traffic fatalities.

“All of the events that we sponsor, like the school assembly and the motorcycle safety display last week, are meant to encourage safe driving and ultimately, save lives.”