Record-Courier staff writer
In light of two recent fatal crashes, the Ravenna Post of the Ohio Highway Patrol's participation in a statewide program may be right on point.
Troopers throughout Ohio have been participating in the LifeStat 1.0 program in conjunction with a strategic plan by the highway patrol to reduce traffic crash deaths in Ohio to one per 100 million vehicle miles traveled by Dec. 31, 2007.
To date in 2007, Portage County has seen 12 deaths as a result of 12 fatal crashes, said Lt. Mike Marucci, commander of the Ravenna post. Two of those fatalities occurred within in the past week, including a 55-year-old Randolph man killed Tuesday in Rootstown and a 45-year-old Canton woman killed Wednesday in Deerfield.
Marucci said the Ravenna post's participation started first with the identification of the 15 most dangerous intersections in Portage County. Among those, as identified by the patrol's Office of Strategic Services, are the S.R. 5/New Milford Road intersection; the intersection of S.R. 14 and the S.R. 44/S.R. 5 bypass; and Newton Falls Road at Woodbine Street, Marucci said.
"We're concentrating our efforts in areas where we've seen problems with violations that often precede injury and non-injury crashes, such as failure to yield, not making a complete stop, following too close and speed," he said. "Especially with failure to yield violations, you tend to see an increase in the chance of more serious injury crashes due to the type of crash involved -- side impact ones."
Troopers, along with local police if a high-risk intersection is within a municipality, will spend a couple weeks at a time focusing on those enforcements and violations, Marucci said.
"We want to try to target our enforcement during the months that those particular areas seem to see spikes in crashes, mostly late summer and early fall," Marucci said.
Already, the patrol has conducted some multi-agency traffic enforcement blitzes with assistance from the Portage County Sheriff's Office, Ravenna police and Streetsboro police.
Marucci said troopers also will continue their zero tolerance policy on seat belt law violators.
Statistics from early July show that of the 10 fatalities recorded by that point this year, only 43 percent of those killed who had seat belts available to them were using the restraints, Marucci said.
"That means two-thirds of those victims might've still been with us today if they had buckled up," he said. "Seat belts won't save everybody, I know; but they certainly improve your chances."
The Randolph man killed last week was not wearing a seat belt, the patrol said; it is unknown if the Canton woman killed Wednesday had one on or not.
In 2006, Portage County saw a total of 20 deaths from 18 fatal crashes.
To see a map illustrating the location of fatal crashes in Portage County from 2005 to today's date, visit the patrol's Web site at www.statepatrol.ohio.gov and click on the 'Fatal Crash Maps by County' link.