Pictured above is a crash scene on U.S. 42 last month in which a truck rammed into the side of a building, causing extensive structural damage. Residents along U.S. 42 have complained about speed along the road, but Ohio State Highway Patrol statistics show the road has fewer crashes than other commonly travelled routes in the county.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Will Channell)
With the second major vehicle crash on U.S. 42 occurring within the span of a month, area residents are concerned with the rate that road sees crashes.
Many residents worry about the number of crashes they’ve seen along that road. Last week’s incident resulted in the death of an 18-year-old driver, while last month’s crash saw a large truck plow into the side of building.
Statistics provided by the Ohio State Highway Patrol paint a different picture, though.
Patrol Lt. Molly Harris said U.S. 33 sees the most traffic, followed by U.S. 42 and Routes 4 and 31.
Harris said the biggest factor in the danger of a road is how much traffic it sees. She said U.S. 33, being the busiest road in the county, sees the most crashes with 744 from 2014 to 2016.
“We have a lot of employees that go to Honda on a daily basis,” she said. “So that traffic on 33 is pretty heavy.”
From 2014 to 2016, there were 144 vehicle crashes on U.S. 42. That’s fewer than the 296 crashes on Route 31 and the 378 crashes on Route 4. In that time, U.S. 42 saw one fatality, while Routes 4 and 31 saw two each.
“We do see a lot of crashes on Route 4,” she said.
She said when she looks back at the fatal crashes the county has seen, speed is usually a “number one factor,” though the cause of crashes varies. She said in Logan County, for example, crashes caused by failure to yield are started to pop up.
“If we could just take that extra second at those stop signs, at those intersections … it just gives you some extra time,” she said.
Harris said Union County has been lucky this year in terms of fatal crashes. This year has had only three fatal crashes, including the death last week on U.S. 42. Last year, the county had six. In 2015, the county had seven.
Weather is another factor in crashes, and Harris said it’s most dangerous when it’s in a state of transition.
Harris said the county sees more crashes as the weather gets colder, not only because of slicker roads, but because deer get on the move.
“We see a lot of deer crashes, and out of deer crashes, injuries can occur,” she said.
Early spring is another headache for authorities, as the weather is generally in a tumultuous state around that time.
“It’s not really the weather’s fault, it’s the driver,” she said.
A lack of using seatbelts is also a contributing factor in crashes in both Union and Logan County. Even in injury crashes, seatbelts go far toward mitigating injuries.
“Those seatbelts do save lives,” she said.
Harris said she recommends drivers to slow down. That doesn’t only mean reducing speed, but also taking a few more seconds at intersections and turns. Allowing a bit more time during a commute can help prevent crashes.
“I would say slow down across the board,” she said.
Harris said limiting distractions can help save lives, too. Whether it’s a “beautiful sunset” or a phone, drivers need to note distractions and learn to ignore them. She said to pay attention to what’s in front and around the vehicle.
“That’s one that always rears its ugly head, too,” she said. “There’s so many things that can distract us in the cars now as well as even distractions outside the car.”
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