The number of deadly crashes in Clark County this year has more than doubled compared to last year, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s crash database.
There have been 19 fatal crashes reported in 2020, according to the database. In 2019, there were eight fatal crashes.
Traffic fatalities are up across the state, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Statistics show 929 fatal crashes this year, compared to 881 fatal crashes by this time last year.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have played a role in the spike in crashes, Lt. Brian Aller of the Springfield Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.
“Decisions made from the COVID pandemic affected almost all of Ohio. The misperception that troopers, police and deputies are not working has possibly emboldened some unfortunate few to drive beyond the capabilities of their vehicles and themselves,” he said.
Springfield Police Traffic Sgt. Michael Curtis said he could not pinpoint a specific cause to the increase in fatalities this year in the city, but said there has been an increase in lack of regard for other drivers.
“There does seem to be an increase in people disregarding the speed limit and also disregarding basic traffic stop signs and stop lights," Curtis said. "We’ve seen an increase in people proceeding through intersections without any sort of regard.”
He explained that timed-lights within the city limits are designed to move traffic efficiently. Drivers should expect to wait at those lights for 50 seconds are less, he said.
“No one is inconvenienced a great deal by stopping at those lights," Curtis said.
In Springfield, there have been seven fatal crashes so far this year compared to three fatal crashes last year, Curtis said.
“We’ve also had another 12 (crashes) that were very serious injury that did not result in fatalities," Curtis said.
The fatal crashes within the Springfield city limits have involved a bicycle, motorcycles and several motor vehicles.
“Everyone that has died in a motor vehicle, they have not been buckled up," Curtis said. “Our fatality numbers would have been less if people had been wearing seatbelts.”
The city of Springfield is nearing its record number of fatalities.
Curtis said the city of Springfield had 10 fatal crashes in 2015. "That was the high in the city for the past 12 years,” he said. There have been a couple years that the city has had only one fatal crash, he added.
“There’s really not a whole lot of rhyme or reason to how this happens,” Curtis said.
He said that drivers should slow down, be defensive and aware, follow driving guidelines, buckle up and wear protective gear if you are driving a motorcycle to reduce the number of fatal crashes.
Other nearby cities like Dayton have also seen an increase in deadly crashes. According to Dayton Police Department statistics, the number of deadly crashes at 23 in that city this year is higher than any of the last 10 years. This is 50% higher than the 15 recorded up to the same time last year.
Facts & Figures
19: Fatal crashes in Clark County in 2020
8: Fatal crashes in Springfield in 2019
7: Fatal crashes in Springfield in 2020
3: Fatal crashes in Springfield in 2019