Central Ohio transportation safety plan unveiled

Submitted story

COLUMBUS— The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission in collaboration with local, state, and private organizations with expertise in transportation safety, developed the Central Ohio Transportation Safety Plan.

The plan identifies causes of serious injuries and fatalities on Central Ohio local roadway system, establishes a series of goals and benchmarks for safety improvements, recognizes existing trends and critical safety priorities, and creates a framework for how collaboration can improve safety throughout the region. The plan was modeled after the Ohio Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP).

In 2017, the state of Ohio had the 6th highest number of traffic fatalities in the country, accounting for more than 3 percent of all fatalities nationwide.

While traffic fatalities in Ohio increased, the most significant increases in crash types over the 2013-2017 time period included:

• A 37 percent increase in fatalities related to rear end crashes

• A 44 percent increase in fatalities related to crashes involving older drivers (65+)

• A 62 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities

Crashes involving pedestrians and older drivers were two categories that experienced both a significant increase in fatalities and an increase in serious injuries throughout Ohio.

“These aren’t just numbers and percentages, these figures represent people,” said Ohio Department of Transportation Director Dr. Jack Marchbanks. “ODOT has the third largest safety program of any state in the nation and we’re proud of the record investments to make our roads safer, but we can’t solve this problem with engineering alone. We need drivers to be alert for pedestrians and other motorists and take the responsibility of driving a motor vehicle seriously.”

In Central Ohio, traffic crashes and fatalities have increased over the 2013-2017 time period.

During this five-year time period in Central Ohio:

• A 21 percent increase in crashes

• A 28 percent increase in fatalities

• A 4 percent decrease in serious injuries

The data analyzed from the crashes provided critical insight into where and what types of safety improvements need to be made throughout Central Ohio.

“Studying and addressing transportation safety issues are a top priority for MORPC and our members,” said Kerstin Carr, MORPC Director of Planning & Sustainability. “While our member governments continue to make engineering improvements to our roadways, we continue to have high fatality and serious injury rates, especially for our most vulnerable roadway users.

“This plan is not only a review of crash data, but also an action plan on how to address the safety issues we have today through a holistic approach, including engineering, education, and enforcement.”

The priorities of safety improvements were categorized into four emphasis areas:

Serious crash types

Throughout Central Ohio between 2013 and 2017, five crash types (Fixed Object, Rear End, Angle, Left Turn, and Head On) accounted for nearly 70 percent of fatalities and serious injuries.

Vulnerable roadway users

Pedestrians accounted for less than one percent of all units involved in crashes yet represented more than 12 percent of serious injuries and fatalities during the time period.

Driving safety concerns

Alcohol and/or drugs were suspected in crashes that resulted in 27 percent of fatalities and 14 percent of serious injuries during the time period.

Speed related crashes accounted for 25 percent of all fatalities and 17 percent of serious injuries.

Fifty-one percent of fatalities and around 16 percent of serious injuries to motor vehicle occupants were people not wearing a seat belt.

Distracted driving crashes accounted for 5 percent of all fatalities and 7 percent of all serious injuries during the 2013-2017 time period in Central Ohio, although we recognize that distracted driving related crashes are drastically underreported.

Emerging technologies

In recent years, new mobility options have arrived on the streets within Central Ohio, and others are expected in the future. While the COTSP does not provide any analysis of crash data related to these emerging technologies, this will be a current challenge for Central Ohio and has been identified as the fourth emphasis area in the COTSP.

Submitted story