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Not wearing seat belt factor in fatals

A map of Columbiana County shows the location of the fatal accidents throughout the county and compares the number of accidents from 2021 to 2020 and 2019. (Special to the News/Ohio State Highway Patrol)

LISBON — There have been more fatal car accidents in Columbiana County in the first three months of 2021 than in all of 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2017. Since Jan. 1, seven fatal accidents have claimed the lives of eight people throughout the county. In 2020, 2019 and 2018, six fatal accidents happened per year. In 2017, five fatal accidents occurred throughout the year. According to the highway patrol, fatal crashes in the county are up six compared to the first three months of 2020, which ties it with Trumbull County for the fifth largest increase out of a all 88 counties in Ohio.

Sgt. Dan Morrison of the Lisbon highway patrol post said the majority of those killed in fatal accidents through out the years were not wearing their seat belts.

“We put a huge emphasis on wearing your seat belt. It can save your family and friends from so much pain and heartache,” he said.

The highway patrol has issued 229 seat belt violations so far this year, and for good reason. The Centers for Disease Control says that when worn correctly, wearing your seat belt reduces the risk of fatal injuries by 45% and cuts the risk of serious injury in half. Drivers and passengers not wearing a seat belt are 30 times more likely to be ejected during a crash, and 75% of those ejected die from their injuries.

The winding, rural roads in Columbiana County are also a factor, according to Morrison. Since 2019, the majority of fatal accidents have occured on rural county roads. This year, only one out of the seven fatalities occured on an urban road.

“The roadways in the county are very windy, you have to remain focused on the road. We tell people to drive at or below the speed limit, especially on those roads,” Morrison said.

In addition to wearing your seat belt, adhering to the speed limit and limiting distractions while driving, driving sober is another important way to ensure you make it home to your loved ones. Two of the fatalities in 2021 were OVI related compared to five out of six in 2020. In the past three months, 81 OVI enforcement have occured in the county.

While the tragedy of fatal accidents cannot always be avoided, there are several steps that drivers can take every time they get behind the wheel to increase their chances of a safe journey. They highway patrol emphasizes the importance of limiting distractions, driving sober and driving the speed limit. They urge drivers and passengers to buckle up every time, no matter the distance they’re traveling.

lnickel@mojonews.com

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