September 22, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
55°F

Traffic deaths double; police urge caution

Law enforcement officers are concerned about the spike in traffic fatalities in 2014. So far this year, four people have been killed in three crashes — double the number of traffic fatalities in all of 2013.

Lt. Brian Ohlin, director of the Medina County OVI Task Force, said officers are looking out for impaired and distracted drivers as the weather warms up and St. Patrick’s Day approaches.

“We’re doing an increase in patrols,” Ohlin said.

The OVI Task Force plans to conduct a sobriety checkpoint sometime during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. He said in 2013, 33 percent of fatal crashes in Ohio were alcohol-related.

“Targeting of impaired drivers is of the upmost importance,” Ohlin said.

In addition to impaired drivers, patrols also are looking for distracted drivers and encouraging everyone to use seat belts.

“There’s been an uptick in crashes and impairment isn’t always the cause,” Ohlin said. Slick roadways and speed may have contributed to this year’s first fatal crash in the Brunswick area. That crash is still under investigation.

The other two fatal crashes, one that killed two women in Homer Township and a third crash last month on Montville Township, also remain under investigation.

In the Montville Township crash, the driver died after he was partially ejected from his vehicle. Police reported he was not wearing a seat belt and was driving erratically.

Ohlin said there is a tendency for distracted driving and increased speeds as the sun comes out and the weather warms up.

“Drivers aren’t dealing with snow- and ice-covered roads and other things begin to enter the driving experience,” Ohlin said.

Still he urges motorists that while it’s much more fun to drive in the warmer months, it’s important to stay focused on the road.

“Driving should be your No. 1 priority,” he said.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.