Crashes, fatalities creeping up
The latest three-year crash report compiled by AMATS shows that, while the number of crashes and crash-related fatalities in the Greater Akron area continue to increase, the number of serious crash-related injuries continues to decrease.
Although there may be a few dips in year-to-year totals, the overall trend for area crashes has been upward since 2009 when total crashes hit their nadir of 16,454 and peaked at 18,802 in 2015. Similarly, crash-related fatalities have been on the upswing since 2014 when the area saw a record low of 40 deaths before hitting a high of 60 deaths a mere three years later in 2017.
The agency’s 2015-2017 Crash Report also shows that – while crashes and fatalities are increasing – the number of crashes resulting in serious injuries is slowly decreasing from its high of 693 in 2010 to a low of 450 in 2017. (The years 2012 and 2013 also recorded more than 600 such crashes with 675 and 624 respectively.)
The latest report is based on AMATS’ analysis of nearly 59,000 motor vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian-related crash records for the area’s roadway sections and intersections provided by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). High-crash locations identified in the report may be used by communities as a starting point when seeking federal Highway Safety Program funds through ODOT for safety improvement projects.
The agency’s 2015-2017 Crash Report shows that during the three-year period the number of area crashes remained nearly the same from 18,802 in 2015 to 18,787 in 2017 – a decline of 15 crashes. Crash-related injuries also decreased slightly during the same period – from 6,419 to 6,200. AMATS Transportation Improvement Program Coordinator Dave Pulay suggests that these improving numbers may be due to various safety improvements – such as new left turn lanes, signals, roundabouts, and widenings – throughout the region – and new safety technologies on vehicles such as blind-spot notification systems and rear-view cameras.
Sadly, despite the improving crash totals, Greater Akron area fatalities increased every year of the report from 49 in 2015, to 54 in 2016, and 60 in 2017. Pulay notes that safety experts are unsure as to why fatalities are increasing. Some speculate that an improving economy with increased commuter and commercial traffic may be the reason for the increase. Still others blame the loss of life on distracted and impaired driving.
For the 2015-2017 Crash Report, the agency identified 179 high-crash roadway sections and 316 high-crash intersections in the region. Not surprisingly, because Akron has the most roadway sections and intersections of any community in the region, the city also has the most locations listed for both high-crash categories. Among the findings of the 2015-2017 Crash Report are:
- Akron has 65 high-crash roadway sections followed by Cuyahoga Falls with 20 sections. Kent – the Portage County community with the most high-crash sections – is third with 14.
- Akron has 164 high-crash intersections followed by Cuyahoga Falls with 29 intersections. Kent – the Portage County community with the most high-crash intersections – is third with 17.
- The cities of Akron and Fairlawn each have three sections listed in the 10 highest scoring high-crash roadway sections in the Greater Akron area.
- Akron has six intersections listed in the 10 highest scoring high-crash intersections, the most of any community in the Greater Akron area. Streetsboro is second with two intersections listed.
- 2017 saw bicycle-related crashes spike to 90 from a low of 76 in 2016. This increase marks the end of a downward trend that began in 2013.
- Out of 243 bicycle-related crashes for the three-year period, 191 or 79 percent, resulted in an injury and three resulted in a fatality. There were no fatal bike crashes in 2017.
- Sixty-six percent of bicycle-related crashes occurred at intersections. According to safety reports, many of the cyclists in these crashes fail to obey stop signs and traffic signals.
- Out of 501 pedestrian-related crashes for the three-year period, 418 or 83 percent, resulted in an injury and 21 in a fatality. Pedestrian crashes decreased from 179 in 2015 to 156 in 2017.
- Pedestrian-related crashes occur throughout the year, but tend to increase in the fall and peak in October.
For more information, please call AMATS at 330-375-2436. The 2015-2017 Crash Report is available by clicking here.