Ohio (WKBN) – The death toll on Ohio’s highways has increased for the second year in a row. Police in the state are now crunching the numbers and trying to figure out why there were so many traffic-related fatalities.
Statewide, the number of traffic-related fatalities in 2015 increased by about 50 from the year before, according to preliminary figures from the state.
Locally, traffic-related deaths have increased as well. In the last year, 46 people died in accidents just here in the Valley. This year, Mahoning County totaled four more deaths than in 2014, with 22 fatal crashes; and there were five more deaths in Trumbull County, bringing the total to 16.
Columbiana County saw a significant drop, however, with 12 less traffic-related fatalities than the year before. In Columbiana County, there were a total of eight fatal crashes in 2015.
The most fatal crashes occurred in the month of January in Trumbull County, with six crashes, and in August in Trumbull County, with four fatal crashes.
Another increase includes the number of commercial vehicles involved in fatal accidents, according to Ohio State Highway Patrol Sgt. Eric Brown. He attributed many of the crashes to road construction.
“This summer, the construction zone on Interstate 76 and 80 was a major problem,” he said. “Out of those 20 fatal crashes that we’ve had this year, seven involved commercial vehicles.”
Mahoning County’s total of fatal crashes includes Thursday night’s accident on the New Road overpass in Austintown.
Geraldine Beene, age 83, died when the car she was riding in was hit head on. Officials are still looking into the cause of the accident but say the bridge was icy.
“Any fatal crash you have, you gotta put the pieces of the puzzle together. We’re gonna interview witnesses, we’re going to look at the speeds of the vehicles, and that takes time. That’s not something that we’re gonna come up with at the scene,” Brown said.
So far, no charges have been filed in that crash.