Governors Safety Council reviews traffic stats

PIQUA — Following a COVID-19 related hiatus of more than 15 months, the Governors Community Traffic Safety Network of Shelby County held its quarterly meeting recently. The meeting was hosted by Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSP) Lt. Joe Gebhart at the OSP Piqua Post.

Sidney City Police Chief Will Balling provided those in attendance with traffic statistics comparing the statistics from the first half of 2020 to the first half of the current year. He reported there were no fatalities in the corporate limits during the first six months of either year.

Accidents were up 22% from 202 crashes in 2020 to 245 for the same period this year. Citations issued increased 23% over 2020 to 796 so far this year. Citations for no operator’s license increased 26% to 267 in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period last year.

Traffic stops increased from 1,539 in the first half of 2020 to 2,393 during the first half of 2021, a 56% increase.

“Because of the decrease in traffic during the pandemic, there were fewer vehicles on the road in 2020,” Balling said. “In addition, I was reluctant to have our officers in close contact with the public at the height of the pandemic not wanting to endanger their health and well-beings.”

Balling also provided the list of the Top 10 Crash Intersections for 2020. For some years, state Route 47 has held the distinction of being the location of the most dangerous intersections, although the Russell Road – St. Marys Avenue intersection ranks as the fourth most dangerous intersection and the Russell Road – Wapakonta Avenue intersection elbows its way into the list as the sixth most dangerous intersection.

The state Route 47 intersection at Vandemark Road ranks No. 1 on the list, the intersection at Fourth Avenue No. 2, the intersection at Ohio Avenue No. 3, the intersection at Fifth Avenue number five, the intersections at Main Avenue and Main Avenue tied at number six, West Avenue ranked eighth, and the intersections at the Interstate 75 southbound ramp, Sixth Avenue, and at Wayfarer Lane and Folkerth Avenue all tied for ninth place.

Gebhart provided statistics for Shelby County, covering the period from Jan. 1, 2019, through July 19, 2021. His list of top crash routes included I-75, with 598 crashes, state Route 47, with 529 crashes, state Route 29, with 319 crashes, County Road 25A, with 112 crashes, state Route 274, with 75 crashes, and state Route 66, with 73 crashes.

Gebhart also provided statistics for accidents by both the hour and the day of the week. Friday remains the day of the week with the most accidents, followed by Wednesday, Thursday, Tuesday, Saturday, and Monday. Sunday remains the safest day of the week.

The hours of the day that are most dangerous have not changed much over the years. The most dangerous hours begin with 3 p.m., followed by 4 p.m. and then 5 p.m. Statistically, the fewest accidents happen at 3 a.m., closely followed by 2 a.m.

Deputy Fire Chief Dallas Davis provided comparative statistics for the Sidney Fire Department. Davis noted that the average number of calls for the three-year period (2017-2019) was 2199 calls through July 12. In 2020, there were 2118 calls, and thus far this year there have been 2127 calls through the same period.

“Believe it or not, calls for service actually declined during the pandemic,” Davis told the group. “No one wanted to go to the hospital for fear of contracting the virus.”

Davis also reported that drug overdoses had declined. He noted that the drugs of choice currently are meth and fentanyl.

When asked by Gebhart, Davis reported that the department averages about one structure fire per month. Thus far this year, Davis reported that there have been 14 fires, almost double the normal frequency.

Ohio Department of Transportation Administrator Tony Brown reported that there were few construction projects this year as a result of budget cuts. He discussed the additional safety precautions that had been initiated when performing routine maintenance. These precautions have been instituted as a result of serious construction site accidents.

Gebhart presented a brief program on commercial vehicle accidents. He noted that many of the accidents are caused by vehicles entering what is referred to as the truck’s “No Zone”.

“Due to their size and height, semi-trucks and buses have several large blind spots where a car or small truck will virtually ‘disappear’ from the driver’s view,” Gebhart stated. “The four areas drivers should avoid are the front, rear and both sides of the tractor to the front of the trailer.”

“Traveling in these areas will greatly increase the potential for a crash,” Gebhart said. “If you cannot see the mirrors on the vehicle, they cannot see you.”

“A vehicle weighing 80,000 pounds cannot stop quickly,” Gebhart continued. “There are approximately 100,000 commercial vehicle crashes each year. While that is not a high percentage of all crashes, the end result can be deadly because of the size of the vehicles involved.”

He mentioned Dick Lavy Trucking as one of the local commercial trucking companies for which the OSP has presented programs. Gebhart noted that as a result of the large number of manufacturing jobs in Sidney and Shelby County, there were more commercial vehicles on the road in our area than in many other areas of the state.