Highway patrol warns rise of fatal motorcycle crashes

SAFETY FIRST — Lt. Maurice Waddell, left, of the Ohio State Highway Patrol St. Clairsville post and Lt. Robert Bodo of the Steubenville Post alert the public to a rise in motorcycle fatalities and urge caution. -- Robert DeFrank

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The state is still in the midst of the 100 deadliest days of summer, and Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers are putting out word that fatal motorcycle crashes are on the rise.

Lt. Maurice Waddell of the St. Clairsville Post and Lt. Robert Bodo of the Steubenville Post Tuesday reminded the public to use caution.

They also alerted drivers that troopers will be on the lookout for dangerous riding and driving.

The 100 deadliest days of summer, as defined by the patrol, include the summer months from Memorial Day to Labor Day, which this year falls on Sept. 6.

“We’ve investigated at the St. Clairsville Post six fatal crashes, and 66 percent (four) of those crashes involved impaired drivers,” Waddell said. “Fifty percent of those fatal (car or truck) crashes, the passenger or driver were not buckled up, and they were killed as a result,” Waddell said.

“We had two motorcycle crashes since June. In both of those cases neither driver was wearing a helmet, and one of the instances this past weekend, we suspect alcohol was involved,” Waddell continued. “They account for 41 percent of motorcycle injury and fatal crashes.”

Bodo said his post handled its last fatal crash on June 20.

“We’ve handled seven fatal crashes this year in Jefferson and Harrison counties, and three of them have been motorcycles with four people killed, so we’ve had eight people killed in both counties and four were because of a motorcycle accident,” he said, noting those figures are from “throughout the year, from May through now.

“Last year we only handled one (fatal motorcycle crash),” Bodo said. “Our 2019 wasn’t as bad. We see a lot of crashes on back state routes, just because of the hills and the turns, and a lot of drivers don’t drive within their ability. They have to know how to drive within their ability and be able to handle what they have. A commonality with all of our motorcycle crashes — speed has been a factor.”

They said statewide there have been 695 fatal crashes, representing a 16 percent increase. The three-year average is 598.

They said the Cambridge District, which includes the Steubenville, St. Clairsville, Marietta, Cambridge, New Philadelphia and Zanesville posts, has seen 113 motorcycle crashes, 72 injuries and 11 fatal motorcycle crashes to date.

“Impaired driving plays a part in it. The other thing is unsafe speed for road conditions. There’s no common factor when it comes to roadways. It’s been spread out throughout the county. We haven’t had a couple fatal crashes in the same area,” Waddell said. “It’s mostly state routes and township and county roads.

He said 2019 was a significant year for fatal crashes, with 22 people killed.

“We’re definitely down from that year, but as I said before, one fatal is one too many and we just want people to take responsibility for traffic safety and wear the proper equipment if you’re riding in a motorcycle, if you’re riding in a car, wear your safety belt and encourage others to do the same.”

They said troopers will be out in force, watching for speed violations and signs of impairment.

“And you’re going to see us a lot on our back state routes,” Bodo said.

“I encourage people if they think someone’s impaired or they see any reckless driving to call the highway patrol post #677 or dial 911,” Waddell said.


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