The downward trend in the number of crashes in the Greater Akron area over the last several years is leveling off, according to the latest analysis spanning 2009 through 2011 compiled by the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS). Overall crashes in Portage and Summit counties only increased by less than 3 percent – from slightly more than 16,450 in 2009 to slightly more than 17,000 in 2011.
Dave Pulay, AMATS transportation engineer, says that the number of crashes on the area’s roadways and intersections is being held down because of much-needed safety improvements such as the new state Route 8 project in northern Summit County and several new “roundabouts” in the area. Stepped up law enforcement and education campaigns, especially those aimed at younger drivers, are also helping the area’s crash totals, according to Pulay.
“The number of crashes is almost the same as last year. So are injuries and fatalities. Bicycle-related crashes are down slightly too,” Pulay says.
He adds that impacts of safety improvements are often offset by new challenges such as distracted driving due to texting and using other electronic devices when full attention should be paid to driving and changing road conditions. There is also the ongoing problem of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
The agency identified 115 high-crash roadway sections and 259 high-crash intersections in the Greater Akron area. AMATS prepares its reports based on crash records provided by the Ohio Department of Public Safety and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). As the agency responsible for transportation planning in the area, AMATS uses this information to identify needed projects throughout the area. Communities rely on the report when applying for Highway Safety Program funds through ODOT.
Although crashes ticked up slightly last year, the area still had 6,000 fewer crashes when compared to the peak year of 2002. Pulay says that - while the area’s crash numbers are lower since then - safety remains a chief concern to the area’s communities and transportation planners. “The challenge to reduce crashes is never over,” he warns.
Other findings of the analysis are that:
- Akron is home to five of the 10 highest ranked high-crash roadway sections and five of the highest ranked high-crash intersections in the Greater Akron area. Runner up Cuyahoga Falls had two in each category.
- In Portage County, the highest ranked high-crash roadway section is located on state Route 59 in Franklin Township and the highest ranked high-crash intersection is located at state Routes 14 and 43 in Streetsboro.
- Rear-end crashes are the most common type of accident and account for roughly 35 percent of all crashes in the Greater Akron area.
- Out of 490 pedestrian-related crashes, 85 percent resulted in an injury and 4 percent in a fatality. Out of total pedestrian-related crashes, 12 percent involved children age 12 and under.
- Out of 325 bicycle-related crashes, 78 percent resulted in an injury and less than 1 percent resulted in a fatality. Out of total bicycle-related crashes, 21 percent involved children age 12 and under.
Pulay adds that the agency will release its analysis of freeway locations in the Greater Akron area in the coming weeks once data is available from ODOT. For more information, please call AMATS at 330-375-2436. The 2009-2011 Crash Report is available on Patch or at the AMATS web site at amatsplanning.org.