Photo by 51fifty via Wikimedia Commons.

Photo by 51fifty via Wikimedia Commons.

The state of Ohio has seen a 25% increase in drugged driving crashes since 2012, according to statistics from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).

In 2016, the state has already tallied 3,574 drugged driving crashes, representing 33% of all impaired driving collisions. In hopes of stemming the tide, ODOT and the Ohio State Patrol are now using the state’s 130 freeway message signs, as well as portable highway signs, to raise public awareness about the growing problem.

The highway signs display messages alerting motorists to the increase in drugged driving crashes. They also urge people to start talking about the drug abuse epidemic. The effort is part of the state’s “Start Talking” initiative, a campaign that encourages parents and community leaders to talk to children about the dangers of drug use. Gov. John Kasich and First Lady Karen Kasich launched the Start Talking campaign in 2014.

“Lives are forever changed when people make the decision to drive after taking drugs,” said Col. Paul Pride, patrol superintendent for the Ohio State Highway Patrol. “If you see drug activity or impaired driving, report it immediately to the Patrol by calling #677."