By Joe gorman
The three local Ohio State Highway Patrol posts all saw a reduction in drunken-driving fatal accidents in 2013, and two of them encountered fewer fatal motorctycle accidents as well.
Statistics provided by the patrol show that posts in Lisbon, Southington and Canfield encountered a significant reduction in the number of fatal crashes where alcohol was involved, and the Mahoning and Trumbull posts also saw a drop in motorcycle fatalities.
Trumbull County troopers also saw a drop in the number of fatal accidents and victims, as they went from 29 fatal crashes with 33 fatalities in 2012 to 16 crashes with 21 victims in 2013. Included in the latter statistics was the accident in Warren in which six people were killed after the vehicle in which they were riding flipped over into a small pond.
Lt. Brian Holt, commander of the Southington Post, said he was determined to cut down the number of fatalities at the beginning of 2013 and was able to do it through a combination of enforcing speed limits and seat-belt restraints, as well as constantly trying to educate drivers on the perils of driving drunk.
Holt said 80 percent of those killed in accidents were not wearing seat belts.
In Columbiana County, post commander Lt. Joe Dragovich said eight of 11 fatal accidents involved vehicles with seat belts, and in all eight of those accidents, the seat belt was not used.
He said a man who was killed in a fatal accident earlier this year had been cited before for not wearing a seat belt, as recently as Dec. 22, and he fixed the seat belt in his vehicle so that while it would appear to be in place from the road, he was not wearing it.
Dragovich said the seat belt often is the factor in saving lives when an accident is caused because of bad driving and he cannot figure out why more people do not wear them.
“It’s not like you’re going to cause an accident by putting your seat belt on,” Dragovich said.
Holt said people just do not think they will get hurt and that is why they do not buckle up.
At the Canfield Post, commander Lt. Nakia Hendrix said the exam station for motorcyclists is right next to the post, which helps education efforts because troopers can be there on a consistent basis to speak about motorcycle safety. His post went from five motorcycle fatalities in 2012 to just one in 2013.
The number of OVI fatalities at his post also declined in 2012 from nine to four. He said OVI checkpoints throughout the county that his post helps to staff with other departments were key in driving those numbers down.
“That probably played a big role,” Hendrix said.
Trumbull County also saw a drop in OVI-related crashes from 14 in 2012 to four in 2013. Holt also credited checkpoints and education with helping to knock down those numbers.
In Columbiana, that post went from six OVI-related fatal accidents in 2012 to two in 2013.
Overall, Columbiana had 11 fatal accidents in 2013, down from 13 in 2012; Mahoning’s numbers stayed the same at 21 in both 2012 and 2013.
Columbiana had three motorcycle fatalities compared with none in 2012, while Trumbull saw just one motorcycle fatality in 2013, down from six in 2012.
Holt said he could not give a reason as to why those numbers were so low.