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Crash rate higher for rural counties

One local county sees decade-long high crash rate.

Rural counties had a higher crash rate than more urban counties over the last 1o years, information released to the Logan and Champaign County Regional Planning Commission this week showed.

“Drivers are just going faster. Typically 25 or 35 mph on an urban road and typically 55 mph on a rural road, and the roads are narrower,” Clark County Engineer John Burr said.

Logan County’s crashes per vehicle miles traveled, a measure of how much traffic is flowing along a roadway during an average 24-hour period, was more than Champaign and Clark.

Champaign and Clark have been routinely under under Ohio’s crash average, but well above the national.

Logan and Champaign counties work with Union County under the Logan-Union-Champaign Regional Commission that is currently working with the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission to lower those numbers.

“We are going to dig deeper into these numbers to hopefully get them down,” MVRPC Director Brian Martin said.

Martin presented the information at the LUC commission’s dinner Thursday night.

Martin explained in rural communities you have less people driving, but often the number of crashes are similar to more urban areas.

“There are a variety of factors that go into this. Deer, alcohol and human error,” Martin said.

He is working to create a Transportation Planning Document for the LUC to address issues like Logan County’s above-average crash rate calculation.

He said it will be up to the counties to work together to make improvements to make the roads safer and efficient.

Burr said there isn’t funding to keep up with all the road improvements needed.

He is currently working on a project on Lower Valley Pike, and to add a safety zone that includes a rumble strip on the side will cost more than $6 million.

He noted that number is higher than usual because there are three bridges along that stretch, but, on average, to widen a road to make it safer costs around $750,000 a mile.

Burr said the increasing cost of fuel has contributed to rise in the cost of asphalt in recent years, because fuel is involved in several parts of the process to expand a road.

In Springfield, Bechtle Avenue and First Street had the most crashes from 2010 to 2012, 106, and the intersection of Burnett and Main was second with 67.

A study by the Clark County-Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee published this year highlighted how much more a rural county crash costs society compared to an urban crash in total economic impact to property and life.

A rural head-on crash costs society $207,656 and as opposed to $84,538 for a urban head-on crash, the study said.

“It costs more to society mainly because the crashes happen at such higher speeds,” TCC Administrative Assistant Melanie Runkel said.

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