Fewer crashes and fewer traffic fatalities were reported in 2017 than 2016 and troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol hope that 2018 will continue that downward trend.
Lt. Eric A. Caudill, commander of the Delaware Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, said that there were 14 traffic fatalities in 2017, which is 10 less than the 24 fatalities recorded in 2016.
“Our goal is always zero traffic fatalities and to make the roadways much safer,” Caudill said.
Caudill reported that there were 2,025 crashes countywide in 2016 and in 2017 that number fell to 1,866. He said the patrol did several things to attempt to reduce fatal crashes last year.
“They used special enforcement initiatives to target our high-crash areas and to target those crash-causing violations,” Caudill said. “During these peak hours, we also try to increase our manpower and also when we look at our crash picture we take a look at the scheduling of our manpower and we try to increase manpower during those high-crash times.”
Caudill said the patrol has also tried a number of educational initiatives targeted at all age groups to discuss car safety at places like Dempsey Middle School or SourcePoint.
Assistant Post Commander Sgt. Geoffrey Freeman said that in 2016 there were a high number of crashes involving pedestrians in the City of Delaware and said the Delaware Police Department asked for assistance. Caudill said an Ohio State Highway Patrol motorcycle unit was dispatched to assist the city.
City of Delaware Police Chief Bruce Pijanowksi said the extra patrols in the city were very beneficial.
“The added enforcement puts people on notice,” Pijanowski said. “It gets people to understand they need to put down their cellphones.”
Looking ahead, Caudill said the patrol is planning to focus a great deal on distracted driving and is planning both educational and enforcement initiatives to deal with the issue.
Jackie Bain, an educator at the Delaware General Health District and SAFE (Safety Awareness For Everyone) Delaware coordinator, said another problem for the county is aggressive driving.
“We have a lot of inexperienced drivers in this county because we have a lot of teenagers,” Bain said. “[We’re] adding a large number of novice drivers every year to a very congested and distracted population; that’s kind of the heart of the problem. It’s the same way with older drivers in some cases who are challenged with age-related issues.”
“We want to reduce traffic fatalities and make Ohio roadways safer and we are going to try and accomplish those goals through special enforcement initiatives and education initiatives,” Caudill said. “We run several multi-agency enforcement initiatives and through the strong relationships through all the departments throughout the county has made a drastic difference to help reduce these fatalities.”
Bain encouraged drivers to “drive with integrity.”
“Do the right thing when no one is looking,” Bain said. “Doing the right thing is there to protect ourselves and others. If more people took that into account, that they need to have that integrity when driving, there would be a lot less injury and death on the roadways.”
Contact Glenn Battishill at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.