By ERIC SCHAADT
Tougher enforcement of traffic laws and other safety measures have helped reduce the number of fatal accidents on area roads in recent years, law enforcement officials say.
In 2013, six people lost their lives in accidents on roads in Hancock County, the same number of fatalities recorded in 2012, according to figures provided by the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office.
For the second straight year, no fatal accidents were recorded on Findlay streets.
Alcohol was a factor in two of the county’s six fatal traffic accidents last year, the same number as in 2012.
In 2007, 11 deadly crashes occurred in Hancock County, a figure that has been declining since.
The focus on enforcement of traffic laws and campaigns to educate motorists have helped, law enforcement authorities said.
“I think it’s both,” Sgt. Matt Kinsinger of the sheriff’s office said. “I believe the extra traffic patrol and education efforts are playing a part in safer roadways.
“Zero fatalities is the only acceptable number, and the only number we can all live with,” Kinsinger said.
Extra patrol hours are funded via federal grants handled by the Ohio Traffic Safety Office.
According to the sheriff’s office, failing to yield the right of way at an intersection was the main cause in four of the six fatal wrecks last year, while failing to control a vehicle was the main culprit in the other two incidents.
Two of last year’s fatal accidents involved motorcyclists who were driving while intoxicated, the sheriff’s office said, and both motorcyclists were not wearing helmets.
Safety measures may have helped save other travelers, according to authorities.
Last year marked the first full year that metal cables were installed in the median of some portions of Interstate 75 near Findlay, to help block vehicles from spinning into the opposite lanes of travel during a crash.
“Those were installed for safety reasons,” said Lt. Chris Kinn of the Findlay post of the State Highway Patrol.
Kinn, who oversees crash reconstruction for the patrol post, said Ohio 18 remains a concern for traffic accidents because intersections along the road run at an angle.
In efforts to reduce the number of deadly accidents, Kinn pointed to the enforcement of laws involving seat belt use, drunken driving and speed.
“Drinking and driving is not as prevalent as it was 10 years ago,” Kinn said.
Yet texting drivers remain a concern.
“Distracted driving is something we focus on a lot in our day-to-day operations,” he said.
In Findlay, as in years past, traffic concerns remain for sections of Broad Avenue, North Main Street and Tiffin Avenue.
The Findlay Police Department will remain active in its routine traffic enforcement, according to Officer Brian Dill of the department’s Crime Prevention Division.
“The department will continue to participate in the national ‘Click It or Ticket’ and ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ campaigns. There may be some special traffic enforcement details in the future, but that depends on staffing and manpower availability,” Dill said.
Findlay’s last fatal traffic accident occurred in July 2011 on Lima Avenue.
Most of the counties around Hancock County saw a drop in the number of deadly crashes last year.
No fatal accidents were reported on roads in Putnam County last year, compared to three fatals in 2012, according to the State Highway Patrol website.
The number of motorists killed also dropped in Henry County with three in 2013, compared to seven in 2012; 14 in Wood County, down from 17 in 2012; and one in Wyandot County, compared to five in 2012.
Allen County saw seven fatalities last year, the same number as 2012.
Increases in traffic fatalities were noted in Seneca County, with 10 in 2013 compared to eight in 2012, while nine fatals were recorded in Hardin County, up from three the previous year.
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