Troopers crackdown on reckless driving on I-675 amid record high temps

Police suspect unseasonably warm temperatures this month could be contributing to aggressive driving in the region that has led to several fatalities.

The aggressive driving caught the attention of Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers who are finishing off a special operation in Greene County today — the initial of several joint-department operations planned throughout the state this year to combat reckless, intimidating, aggressive and distracted driving.

The unseasonable and dry weather this month, troopers said, could fool drivers into poor driving habits.

“They have that false sense of security that we can just drive as fast as (they) want or weave in and out of traffic, and nothing is going to happen because the roads are dry,” said Lt. Matt Schmenk of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Jennifer Davis of Springfield said she’s noticed the reckless driving — and the increased enforcement, too. She appreciates having more troopers and police watching the roads.

“You can tell because all the traffic slows down,” Davis said. “It’s good that they’re out there.”

This newspaper in recent weeks has reported how the number of fatal crashes in Ohio has fluctuated over the past decade. In 2016, Ohio registered a decrease in fatal crashes, even as deaths on U.S. roads jumped to their highest level in nearly a decade.

There have been 112 traffic fatalities in Ohio this year, according to the Highway Patrol. Preliminary year-end data indicate there were 1,036 fatal crashes in all of 2016. Year-to-date, traffic accidents have yielded five fatalities in Greene and Clark counties each, according to preliminary Highway Patrol statistics published Thursday.

Traffic fatalities are down seven deaths over this time last year in Montgomery County, where accidents have killed four year-to-date, according to the Highway Patrol’s statistics. Last year, a Feb. 13 wrong-way crash on Interstate 75 in Dayton killed five people in the deadliest crash since 2013.

Last weekend, three people were killed in two accidents in Clark County, including a fiery crash in Springfield that killed two people and injured a third. And in Greene County, a Beavercreek driver and Fairborn passenger on Saturday were killed in a crash on Interstate 675.

Witnesses said the car in the I-675 accident, driven by 30-year-old Arsalan Kahn, was speeding and passing on the right just before the crash. The crash shut down traffic and sent plumes of black smoke into the air. Weather that afternoon was dry with clear visibility and unseasonably warm.

Weeks earlier on I-675 in Fairborn — the morning of Jan. 30 — a three-car crash yielded one fatality. Forty-eight-year-old Richard Hypes, of Union, was travelling southbound when he lost control of his 2004 Cadillac CTS and crossed the median into oncoming northbound traffic.

On Jan. 27, poor weather conditions were present on Ohio 235 near Haddix Road in Fairborn for a crash that killed an 8-year-old Huber Heights girl and the vehicle’s 59-year-old driver.

News Center 7’s John Bedell and Staff Writers Katie Wedell and Thomas Gnau contributed reporting.

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