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Rural car crashes a sobering concern for Ohio traffic officials

Ohio State Highway Patrol ("OSHP") statistics indicate that close to half of all fatal car accidents that have occurred so far this year within a five-county region of the state -- Montgomery, Miami, Greene, Butler and Warren -- took place in rural areas. There have been 60 fatal crashes within the region, with 28 occurring on non-interstate roads. Last year, 54 of 96 traffic fatalities that occurred in the Miami valley were on rural roadways.

State officials obviously want to do something about that, but cite budget constraints as a strong impediment standing in the way of road fixes.

The problem is real and pressing, given that Ohio has nearly 17,000 miles of rural roads. TRIP, a nonprofit transportation research organization, states that Ohio has the seventh highest number of motor vehicle crashes among all states, and that the motorist death rate is four times higher on the state's rural roads than on all other roads combined.

Ohio's county roads are comparatively dangerous because of their "curvy geometry" and lack of adequate shoulders," says Montgomery County Engineer Paul Gruner. Gruner would like to implement some of TRIP's recommendations, such as installing rumble strips between lanes and at the sides of roads, but says flatly that money is tight. He notes that his department's purchasing power is only about half of what it was eight years ago.

According to OSHP statistics, more than 60 percent of all fatal crashes across the state so far this year have occurred on rural roads. More than 400 people have died in those accidents.

Related Resource: Dayton Daily News, "Half of traffic deaths in rural areas" Sept. 28, 2011

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