ODOT goal: Reduce fatalities to zero

By Melanie Speicher - mspeicher@aimmedianetwork.com

SIDNEY — An overview of crash statistics for Ohio and Shelby County was presented during the Governor’s Community Traffic Safety Network of Shelby County’s quarter meeting held at the offices of District 7 Ohio department of Transportation Tuesday morning.

Mary Hoy, ODOT’s District Planning Department traffic engineer, shared crash statistics for the past two years in Shelby County. In 2016, she said, there were 1,132 deaths on Ohio roadways and eight of them occurred on Shelby County roads. There were 8,873 serious injury crashes in 2016 statewide, with 52 serious injury crashes in Shelby County.

In 2015, there were five fatal crashes in Shelby County and 32 serious injury crashes.

Hoy said 2013 saw the fewest fatalities in the state over the last several years. There were 990 people killed on Ohio roads.

In 2015, there were 302,307 crashes in Ohio. There were 1,110 fatalities and 9,079 people were seriously injured.

In Shelby County, three locations in 2016 had 11 to 15 crashes: Fair Road, Meranda Road and River Road.

Hoy said Ohio’s goal is to have no fatalities on the roadways. The short term goal is to reduce the number of fatalities by 2 percent compared to the five-year average.

She said injuries and deaths can be prevented by increasing seat belt use and decreasing speeds and alcohol use. Distracted driving — such as talking or texting on a cellphone — are also factors which can be reduced.

During the period of 2013 to 2015 in Shelby County, there have been 19 fatalities and 110 people seriously injured. Fixed object crashes were the No. 1 cause of serious injuries and fatalities. Fixed object crashes represented 26 percent of all fatalities and 40 percent of all serious injuries.

For high risk driver behavior, speed-related involvement was the No. 1 cause of fatalities and young driver involvement (15-25 years of age) was the No. 1 cause of serious injuries.

Speed-related involvement caused 47 percent of the county’s fatalities and 22 percent of all serious injuries. Young driver involvement represented 32 percent of the fatalities and 49 percent of all serious injuries.

Commercial motor vehicle crashes represented 21 percent of all fatalities and 11 percent of all serious injuries in the county.

Hoy also shared ODOT safety resources which are available including the highway safety improvement program, township sign upgrade program, transportation information mapping system and GIS crash analysis tool.

Traffic and fire statistics for the fourth quarter and 2016 were presented.

Sidney Police Chief Will Balling compared the traffic statistics for the years 2-14, 2015 and 2016. There have been two fatalities — one in 2015 and one in 2016 — on Sidney streets. There were 731 crashes in 106 and 96 operating a vehicle while intoxicated arrests. The officers issued 1,,5-6 citations which included 555 for no operating license or driving under suspension. There were 60 seat belt violations in 2016.

The officers did 7,472 traffic stops in 2016, down from a peak of 9,616 in 2014. There were 28,722 calls for service in 2016. That number was only police officer responses and doesn’t include the fire department.

Crashes are on the rise in the city, said Balling. The 731 crashes in 2016 was 110 more than three years ago. He said 60 of the crashes were during the 2016 ice storm.

“We are going to do more to address the number of accidents,” said Balling. “We’re going to break down what type of accidents they are and what intersections they are occurring. We want to prevent accidents from increasing.”

He said texting, surfing the Internet and watching movies is causing a lot of problems, he said. Since texting is not a primary offense, officers cannot pull a driver over for just texting.

Sidney Fire Chief Brad Jones said for the first time in the department’s history they responded to more than 4,000 calls in a year. During 2016, the department was dispatched on 4,082 calls.

There were 813 fire calls during the year; 89 township fires; 29 calls for mutual aid for a total of 931 fire calls during 2016.

EMS calls were broken down by City EMA calls (which includes crashes with injuries) 2,696; motor vehicle crashes with no injuries, 40; Dorothy Love EMS calls, 187; township EMS calls, 195; and mutual aid EMS calls, 33, for a total of 3,151 EMS calls.

Fire losses for the year was set at $637,095 in the city. Firefighters were involved with 5,027 training hours.

When questioned about EMS runs to Fair Haven Shelby County Home, Jones said the nursing home has a contract for its own ambulance service. The company provides onsite response to transport the residents to the hospital.

Jones said there are two types of EMS responses: advanced life support (ALS) or basic life support (BLS). In 2016, there were 1,900 to 2,000 ALS calls. There were around 1,000 BLS calls.

He said he attends monthly meetings at Wilson Health in which cardiac events are reviewed.

“Shelby County is opposite national trends,” said Jones. “In 70 percent of actual cardiac events, the patients walk into the ER.”

Jones recommends that anyone feeling chest pain or pressure on their chest call 911 instead of waiting for someone to drive them to the hospital.

Lt. Joe Gebhart, Piqua Post of the Ohio Highway Patrol commander, said there were 2,549 enforcement stops in Shelby County in 2016. That’s down from the 3,002 stops in 2015.

Troopers issued 2,845 warnings and had 1,519 motorist assists. They investigated 227 crashes, down from the 297 in 2015.

He said the patrol plans a couple of OVI checkpoints in Sidney in 2017.

The committee also learned that city projects are underway. There are currently no ODOT projects. They are fixing guardrails and removing ash trees which are on state/county right-of-ways.

Botkins Police Chief Tom Glass talked about the County Road 25A and state Route 274 intersection. He said the number of crashes at the intersection keep increasing each year.

He said he is working with ODOT to see how the intersection can be made safer. One of the options, he said, is to make it a four-way stop. He said a meeting is planned for next week and he’ll have more information after that.

The group’s next meeting will be April 18 at 8:30 a.m. The site is to be determined.

By Melanie Speicher


Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.