Deaths from wrong-way highway crashes increase in Ohio

According to police, 24-year-old Shelby Grabor of Marysville was driving a 2008 Chevy Cobalt south in the northbound lanes of 270, April 8 and struck another vehicle head on. Grabor was pronounced dead in the crash.

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) – Deaths from wrong-way crashes on highways have spiked in Ohio, with more so far in 2016 than in all of 2014, according to the state Department of Transportation.

The department’s records show 47 wrong-way interstate highway crashes with seven fatalities in 2014. Comparable numbers for 2015 weren’t available. But the state has reported 12 wrong-way highway crashes with 16 fatalities and nine injuries so far this year on interstates, The Dayton Daily News (http://bit.ly/1SJeYCO ) reported.

Ohio Department of Public Safety data show 553 wrong-way or wrong-side crashes occurred on all Ohio roads in 2015. That’s up from 467 in 2014 and 446 in 2013.

Data shows that most wrong-way crashes on the interstate are the result of drunk or confused drivers getting on exits the wrong way, but officials also are concerned about intentional ones.

The majority of crashes happen at night on interstates and tend to take place in the passing lane closest to the median, according to studies by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Despite representing 0.1 percent of Ohio crashes in 2015, wrong-way crashes on highways consistently account for about 1 percent of traffic fatalities statewide.

The number of wrong-way crashes is on the rise, even as total U.S. traffic deaths have fallen.

“I’m sure that it’s happened through the years, but it seems to be an accelerating trend,” said ODOT director Jerry Wray.

The state has for years worked with a company developing sensors to detect wrong-way drivers. But a pilot program remains on hold because the technology isn’t reliable enough, ODOT said.

“All we can do, and what we are doing, is trying to improve our signage, make sure there is plenty of warning,” said Wray.

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