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HIGHWAY SAFETY Agencies seeking input on accidents



Published: Sat, August 27, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



It's part of a state program aimed at reducing traffic crashes and fatalities.

YOUNGSTOWN -- Three Ohio agencies are seeking public input about seven highway corridors whose traffic crashes and fatalities exceed the statewide average.

Two of those corridors run through this area, along state Routes 46 and 193.

A public meeting will be from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday in McKay Auditorium at Youngstown State University to gather local input on those corridors.

It's part of Ohio's new Corridor Safety Program, which was initiated by Gov. Bob Taft in January and uses crash data to identify longer highway corridors with crashes and fatalities higher than the state average.

Locations with the highest density of deadly crashes are studied and addressed using a cross-jurisdictional approach that combines engineering, enforcement, motorist education and public input to reduce crashes.

Prevention

"Our analysis shows that many fatal and serious-injury crashes can be prevented by convincing motorists to wear their seat belts, drive sober and obey the speed limits," said Kenneth Morckel, director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

At Wednesday's public meeting, representatives of the Ohio Department of Transportation, the Ohio Department of Public Safety and the Ohio State Highway Patrol will make a brief presentation about the new program and recent crash data collected for the corridors. The presentation will be followed by an open house.

"Some of the best suggestions for improving safety come from the people who live and work along our highways," said ODOT Director Gordon Proctor.

"These meetings are an opportunity for the public to learn more about the types of crashes occurring in the area and share their personal experiences and ideas."

Here's the goal

Col. Paul McClellan, superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, said state officials want to significantly reduce traffic crash fatalities along all seven corridors.

"We believe the motoring public can play an integral role by assisting us with identifying where, when and why problem areas exist so we can deploy resources to ensure those dangerous behaviors are appropriately addressed," he said.

State officials say there were 15 fatal crashes along the 71-mile state Route 46 corridor from Columbiana to Ashtabula County between 1999 and 2003. The majority of crashes happened in Niles and west of Youngstown.

Sixty percent of deadly crashes involved alcohol, and 70 percent happened at night.

There were 10 crashes involving deaths along the 57-mile state Route 193 corridor from Mahoning to Ashtabula County during the same time frame. The majority of those happened in Youngstown and southern Trumbull County.

Forty percent of those crashes involved alcohol, and 53 percent involved drivers 26 and younger.




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