As the hazardous driving season begins, efforts are underway to educate the public and target unsafe driving in Greene County, where eight more people have died in crashes so far this year compared to all of last year.
There have been 13 fatal crashes, resulting in the deaths of 18 people in Greene County this year as of Nov. 8, according to statistics compiled by the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
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The most recent was the Oct. 22 motorcycle crash at U.S. 42 and Spring Valley Paintersville Road, which took the lives of Brook Fudge, 23, of Xenia and Sherill Cruea, 25, of Fairborn. The crash remains under investigation and a cause has not been determined.
One common factor in many of this year’s fatal crashes is victims not wearing seat belts, according to Lt. Matt Schmenk, the patrol’s Xenia Post commander.
Ten of the 18 people who were killed in crashes this year were not buckled in, Schmenk said. By comparison, last year four people who died in crashes were unbuckled.
“One of the most disheartening statistics is that unbelted traffic deaths in Greene County are up this year from last year,” Schmenk said. “It’s simple — safety belts save lives and reduce injury in crashes. It is the easiest thing you can do to protect yourself, your family and friends.”
This month, the Xenia Post launched a seat belt initiative to educate drivers and “to gain voluntary compliance through firm but fair enforcement efforts,” Schmenk said.
The Greene County Safe Communities Coalition is also stepping up efforts to educate the public.
“The Coalition is concerned that, with the winter months coming, fatal crashes could increase due to possible snow and ice on the roadways, so reminding all drivers to slow down, buckle up and avoid all distractions is our priority,” said Jillian Drew, safe communities coordinator for Greene County Public Health.
Drew said the coalition is working to increase public education about safe driving and pushing the messages about “lethal distractions, the importance of seat belt use, the dangers of speed and impaired driving.”
“We encourage all parents to talk with their teen drivers about safe driving and practice those good behaviors themselves,” Drew said.
The patrol’s seat belt initiative runs through to the end of November. Schmenk said the patrol will be launching an impaired driving initiative over Thanksgiving weekend.
The Greene County Safe Communities Coalition meets bi-monthly at the public health building, 360 Wilson Drive, in Xenia. The coalition’s next meeting will be at 9 a.m. Dec. 20.