Deadly crashes spike in Dayton

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

Rest of Ohio sees increase, and pandemic is suspected as a factor.

The number of deadly crashes in Dayton so far this year is higher than any of the last 10 years, including being more than 50% higher compared to this time last year, according to Dayton Police Department statistics.

“We’ve noticed an increase in serious injury accidents and also traffic fatalities, which is alarming,” Assistant Chief Eric Henderson of the Dayton Police Department said.

So far in 2020, 23 fatal crashes have been reported, according to Dayton Police. Fatal crashes are up 53% from this time last year, Henderson said, while noting minor crashes are actually down compared to past years.

Traffic fatalities are up across the state, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Statistics show 929 fatal crashes this year, compared to 881 fatal crashes by this time last year.

Springfield Post Lt. Brian Aller said the COVID-19 pandemic may have played a role in the spike of crashes.

“Decisions made from the COVID pandemic affected almost all of Ohio. The misperception that troopers, police and deputies are not working has possibly emboldened some unfortunate few to drive beyond the capabilities of their vehicles and themselves,” he said.

OHP’s stats show that Montgomery County has had 16 more fatal crashes this year compared to last year. So far this year there have been 47 fatal crashes in the county, compared to 41 crashes throughout 2019, according to OHP.

The deadly crashes this year in Dayton have included six involving pedestrians, two involving motorcycles and one with a tractor-trailer, Henderson said.

“We’re also seeing an increase in complaints for some of this activity of vehicles driving at high rates of speeds, especially on some of our major thoroughfares,” Henderson said.

The lowest number of fatal crashes over the last 11 years were in 2010, 2011 and 2017 when there were 13 each from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30.

Dayton City Commission accepted four Ohio Department of Public Safety grants totaling $310,000 to support high visibility enforcement in an effort to change unsafe driver behaviors through September 2021. Recent enforcement showed 60% of drivers cited were going 20+ mph over the speed limit, data show.

Police shared a slide show that provided areas where the deadly crashes happen, as well as statistics broken down by age, gender and race. The majority of fatal crashes involved men between 31 and 40 and are divided evenly between Blacks and whites, data show.

Henderson said he wants local drivers to slow down and pay attention to their surroundings to help avoid crashes.

“I think it’s important for the community to understand that this is a problem that we’re aware of, but I think it’s a problem that we need to make sure that the community aware of and family members have conversations with their kids, relatives to slow down and pay attention to their surroundings,” he said.

Henderson said he didn’t want to speculate why the number of fatal crashes are up this year, but he said data shows that most of the crashes are taking place during the evening hours or Friday and Saturday nights.

“I think it’s important for people when they are out, pedestrian or driving, pay attention to your surroundings, slow down,” Henderson said. “For pedestrians, wear bright-colored clothing, etc.”

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