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Published: Thursday, 7/31/2014

Fatal crashes in Lucas Co. holding steady

$65,000 grant doesn’t have immediate impact


The number of fatal crashes in Lucas County has remained stubbornly high, according to statistics from the Lucas County Traffic Safety Program. Between October, 2013, and June, 2014, there were 22 fatal crashes, resulting in 23 deaths.

The crash statistics are particularly disappointing since the county received a $65,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Public Safety this year to pay for programs to reduce accident rates. During the same nine-month period in 2013, there were 21 such crashes and 22 fatalities, according to traffic safety program coordinator Gwen Neundorfer.

Lucas County’s crash figures stand out among surrounding, less populated counties. The number of crashes in Lucas County is higher in part because metropolitan areas with more traffic flow have consistently higher accident rates, Ohio Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Craig Cvetan said.

Sandusky, Henry, Fulton, and Ottawa counties each had 10 or fewer fatal motor vehicle accidents between October, 2013, and June, 2014, according to patrol statistics. In Wood County, there were 12 fatal crashes in which 14 people were killed.

While the relatively unchanged number of Lucas County crashes this year is disappointing, the number of crashes has been in decline in recent years, Toledo Post commander Lt. William Bowers said.

Drugs or alcohol remained a key factor in many of the crashes, authorities said.

A driver or a pedestrian was under the influence of drugs or alcohol in more than 41 percent of Lucas County’s fatal crashes in the period from October, 2013, to June, 2014, in comparison with a 2013 state average of 34 percent.

The Toledo Post’s response, Lieutenant Bowers said, has been to set up checkpoints along high-accident areas in which impairment is a common issue, such as the Anthony Wayne Trail.

Simultaneously, the troopers have educated drivers about the importance of other safety measures, since 40 percent of those killed in the county’s fatal crashes were not wearing seatbelts.

“It’s about bringing public awareness to the ... problem,” he said. “We use the data to tell us where we need to be working.”

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