According to the Delaware General Health District and the Ohio Highway Patrol, 2016 had the most crash fatalities on record.
Jackie Bain, an educator at the health district reported there were 24 fatalities in Delaware County in 2016, nearly twice the amount in 2015 when there were 13 fatalities. Bain also reported that there were 12 fatalities in 2014, 11 in 2013 and 15 in 2012. Bain said the year with the next highest amount of fatalities was 2006, when 20 people were killed in crashes.
Bain said that eight of the 24 fatalities were pedestrians, not drivers.
“We don’t usually have pedestrian fatalities,” Bain said. “It’s not like a trend or something we can attack.”
Bain said three of the eight pedestrians that were killed were impaired.
“The pedestrian [fatalities] are alarming,” said Lt. Marcus Pirrone, the commander of the Delaware Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. “We can’t have officers on every street telling people not to walk in the road.” Pirrone said pedestrians need to exercise caution when walking in the road and need to walk against traffic so drivers have a better chance of seeing them.
Pirrone and Sgt. Geoffrey Freeman, the assistant post commander at Delaware, said that distracted driving was also a cause for fatal and nonfatal crashes in 2016.
“The problem with distracted driving is they have to admit it,” Pirrone said. “No one wants to take responsibility. They know it’s wrong but they still do it.”
Freeman said more recently the term “distracted driving” has been synonymous with being on cell phones but that isn’t always the case with crashes.
“Anything can be a distraction,” Freeman said. Freeman said drivers can be distracted with food, children or other passengers among many other things. “It encompasses a lot.”
For Pirrone, the worst thing about the 24 fatalities is that they could have been prevented.
“None of them were accidents; they were all avoidable,” Pirrone said. “A lot of our serious injury crashes are failure to yield.” Pirrone said drivers need to play it safe when turning in front of other drivers, especially when turning left at intersections.
“The worst part of my job is telling parents that their teen has been killed in a car crash that was preventable,” Freeman said.
Freeman said drivers have to be responsible when they get on the road, especially with passengers. Freeman said when drivers get behind the wheel it should be the only thing they are doing instead of trying to multitask.
Pirrone said another challenge is that many drivers don’t take violations like speeding or failing to maintaining a safe distance seriously.
“Speeding is just speeding until you kill someone,” Pirrone said. “It’s so normalized that people don’t even realize the consequences.”
Additionally, Bain reported December 2016 was the deadliest December ever and contained six of the 24 fatalities.
Bain added that 2016 was the first year in recent memory not to have a single motorcycle fatality.
“It’s surprising because the fair weather extended the riding season this year,” Bain said.
Bain said two of the fatalities were children and said that improperly installed car-seats contribute to many injuries in crashes. Bain said parents can contact the health district if they wish to learn how to properly install the car-seats. Pirrone nted that parents should also move children to booster-seats at the appropriate age so the child gains the protection of the seat-belt.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.