The number of traffic crashes on Greater Akron area roadways and intersections increased between 2013 and 2015, according to the latest three-year crash report compiled by the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study. This upward trend is a continuation of one that began in 2009, when area crashes hit their low point, and is similar to overall trends across Ohio and the nation.
AMATS is the regional transportation planning agency serving the Greater Akron area of Portage and Summit counties and a portion of Wayne County.
In Portage County, the highest ranked high-crash roadway section is S.R. 44, from Tallmadge Road to Interstate 76, in Rootstown Township, while the highest ranked high-crash intersection is at the Tallmadge Road/I-76 ramps in Brimfield.
The agency's 2013-15 Crash Report shows year-over-year increases in total area crashes. There were 18,639 crashes in 2015, which was 780 or 4.3 percent more than in 2014. This increase came on top of 17,859 total crashes in 2014, which was 623 or 3.6 percent more than in 2013.
These findings are based on the agency's analysis of nearly 54,000 motor vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian-related crash records for the area provided by the Ohio Department of Transportation. AMATS Transportation Engineer Dave Pulay said that high-crash locations identified in the report may be used by communities as a starting point when seeking federal Highway Safety Program funds through ODOT for safety improvement projects.
The 2013-15 Crash Report marks two firsts for AMATS: It is the agency's first crash report to be prepared using Geographic Information System information and it is the first that will be used to meet new federal performance measures. GIS software allows the agency to pinpoint the location of crashes and count how many occurred near crash segments and intersections.
"We believe that our latest report will help our region meet new federal performance measures," Pulay said.
Under these measures, metropolitan planning organizations such as AMATS must set targets to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads. Pulay says that, while measures have not yet been determined for the Greater Akron area, they will probably be similar to those that will be set for the entire state by ODOT. He adds that the measures may be arriving at a good time for the region.
Pulay noted that area crash fatalities increased by eight from a low of 39 in 2014 to 47 in 2015. "Unfortunately, this matches similar state and national trends. This may be due to more driving in general and distracted and impaired drivers," he said.
For the 2013-15 Crash Report, the agency identified 175 high-crash roadway sections and 308 high-crash intersections in the region. Among the findings of the 2013-15 Crash Report were 301 bicycle-related crashes during the three-year period with 251 or 83 percent resulting in an injury and three in a fatality.
Bicycle-related crashes dropped by about 26 percent from 102 in 2014 to 76 in 2015, the lowest number in recent years and the second year in a row with a significant decrease.
Also, there were 484 pedestrian-related crashes during the period with 427 or 88 percent resulting in an injury and 12 in a fatality. The number of pedestrian-related crashes jumped by 15.6 percent from 153 in 2013 to 177 in 2015.
While AMATS analyzes crashes at the area's roadway sections and intersections, ODOT analyzes crashes on the area's freeways. The department considers only the top 50 rural and 50 urban locations across the state for further study. Two area locations are on the department's high-crash rural freeway list and 11 are on its high-crash urban freeway list. Several of these locations are slated for safety improvement projects.
For more information, please call AMATS at 330-375-2436. The 2013-2015 Crash Report is available on the agency’s web site at amatsplanning.org.