State patrol gets federal funds to pay for holiday overtime

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The Ohio State Highway Patrol is getting federal traffic safety funds to cover the costs of overtime for trooper during the holidays.

The patrol says the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's is one of the most dangerous times to be on the road. Last year more than three dozen people were killed in alcohol related traffic accidents.

Extra troopers are on duty looking for drunk and reckless drivers. Patrol Sgt. Pete Combs says the public can help. Combs says, "Whenever the public sees someone driving aggressively, sees someone who appears to be impaired call us."

Combs says despite years of public awareness campaigns, some motorists still make poor decisions. "People tend to indulge extra food and sometimes extra drinking and if that drinking involves alcohol it can end up impaired and hopefully they won't make the decision to get behind the steering wheel of a car and drive after they do, but if they do we're going to be out there diligently looking for those types of drivers."

Nathan Jefferson says he's been doing a lot of driving over the Christmas holiday, but isn't in a hurry. He says "I take my time, take my breaks and just kind of enjoy myself."

Jefferson says he's seen his share of aggressive drivers. He says, "They're pretty kind of testy. Kind of testy. I found that out. I like driving at night because there's not that much traffic, but in the day time they were going pretty fast this morning."

Tony Miracle says motorists he's seen have been friendly.  He says, "The motorists around here have been excellent.  Everybody's been courteous, driving nice, traffic's been pretty minimal. Its been nice, been a fun trip."

Sgt. Combs says the patrol's efforts have paid off. "As of December 15th we've arrested 1400 more OVI drivers than we did this time last year and we have the opportunity to for the first time since we've been keeping records to fall below 1000 fatalities."

The Patrol got nearly two million dollars in federal funds this fall to help cover the costs of overtime.

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