LIMA — For motorists approaching the intersection of Cable and Allentown roads in Lima between the hours of 3 and 4 p.m. on a cloudless Friday in October, only a black cat crossing your path could lead to a statistically greater chance of being in a traffic accident.
That information — well, not the black cat thing — is among data contained in the draft version of the 2020 crash summary report unveiled late last month by the Lima Allen County Regional Planning Commission.
From 1,071 crashes inside the Lima city limits to a single traffic accident in the village of Harrod, the report breaks down the 2,896 highway crashes in Allen County during 2020 by political subdivision and contributing factors. It also identifies the 10 most dangerous county intersections.
The goal of the report, according to Cody Doyle, associate planner with the planning commission, is to provide insight into the general state of local roadway safety and to identify high hazard crash locations and systematic contributing causes of crash accidents. The No. 1 goal, as always, is to improve overall roadway safety.
The report is compiled annually to help local law enforcement agencies, traffic professionals, engineers and safety advocates target specific locations in need of attention.
Doyle said the Ohio Department of Transportation “is making a push to spend more highway safety dollars at intersections that are dangerous, so that will be our focus going forward” when assembling crash statistics.
Fatal crashes up in 2020
Last year there were 10 fatalities from crashes resulting in 73 serious injuries in Allen County. The 2020 fatality figure was the highest since 2017, when 11 people died on county roadways. Shawnee Township saw four fatal crashes in 2020, while two each were recorded in Bath Township, Marion Township and the city of Lima.
Four of the fatalities involved pedestrians, and eight of the 10 fatal crashes were identified as being the result of alcohol and/or drug use.
According to the report, there were 2,896 traffic accidents in Allen County during 2020, a significant reduction from the nearly 3,300 crashes one year earlier. Of the total number of county crashes, 800 (27%) involved some level of injury to motorists. The other 2,096 traffic mishaps involved property damage only.
There were 144 crashes involving impaired drivers, a slight reduction from 2019, according to the report. Factors that contributed to the total number of crashes in the county were identified as following too closely (19.5% of all accidents); failure to yield (17%); driving off the roadway (9%) and other improper actions (7%).
More accidents occurred on a Friday (17%) than any other day of the week. October was the most accident-prone month, with 10 percent of all highway crashes for the year taking place during the year’s 10th month. Perhaps not surprisingly, the after-work rush hour of 3 to 4 p.m. was statistically the most accident-prone time of the day.
Most dangerous intersections
The report looked at statistics from a three-year period — 2018 through 2020 — to determine the top 10 most dangerous county intersections. All were in or near the Lima corporation limits.
Leading the way was the intersection of Allentown and Cable roads. That intersection was the site of 84 crashes over the three years, including 32 last year alone.
Second on the list was the intersection of Shawnee and Fort Amanda roads, where 75 accidents were recorded during the three-year span. Of that total, only nine occurred in 2020 — a marked decline from previous years.
Doyle said the intersection is the site of the Shawnee roundabout. He attributed the reduction in traffic mishaps there to motorists “simply becoming more comfortable” with using a roundabout. That’s potentially good news, given that two more roundabouts are set for construction in Allen County in 2022.
While the total number of accidents at the Shawnee Road-Fort Amanda Road intersection earned it a high spot on the most dangerous list, Doyle said nearly all of the crashes there involved only property damage due to reduced speeds in the roundabout.
Rounding out Allen County’s list of most dangerous intersections from 2018-2020 were:
• Cable and Elida roads, 74 crashes
• Elida and Eastown roads, 49
• Main and Market streets, 49
• Robb and Cole streets, 48
• Findlay and Sugar streets, 47
• Interstate 75 and state Route 309, 42
• Allentown and Eastown roads, 41
• Jameson Avenue and Market Street, 37
Putnam County problem sites ID’d
Putnam County Sheriff Brian Siefker has identified three intersections that, for reasons he said aren’t immediately clear, are the sites of an above-average number of traffic crashes.
Topping that list, the sheriff said, is a rural intersection of U.S. 224 and state Route 634 between Ottoville and Kalida. State Route 613 at state Route 15 near Continental and the intersection of state routes 613 and 109 between Miller City and Leipsic have also been the scenes of frequent crashes, Siefker said.
The sheriff said he and his staff review crash statistics and, in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Transportation, take action whenever possible to make road conditions safer for motorists.
One such instance, Siefker said, is the intersection of Old U.S. 224 and county Road 5. A roadway that is heavily-traveled by trucks, the sheriff said a four-way stop sign was erected at the intersection within the past two years. As a result, the number of crashes there “has calmed down quite a bit.”
Of particular concern to the sheriff this year is a disturbing number of fatalities on Putnam County roadways. In 2020 there were five fatalities in the county, all in rural areas. This year, there already have been six fatal crashes.
“It seems that for whatever reason, there have been a lot of instances this year of people failing to wear their seat belts and getting ejected from their vehicles,” Siefker said.