Ohio LE agencies use new state data tool to track and analyze crash data
Command staff use the data to give out line assignments, track traffic enforcement stops
DAYTON, Ohio — The Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) has launched a new data tool for residents and other agencies to analyze crash data from the 88 Ohio counties.
The data shows users how many crashes occurred in their county, the severity of the crash, the type of crash, the hour of the crash, and the day of the crash.
“We realize we’re not the only agency that may find this data useful,” OSHP Public Affairs Commander, Lt. Craig Cvetan, said.
Crash types are divided into 10 categories: commercial, deer, distracted, mature, motorcycle, OVI (operating a vehicle impaired), pedestrian, speed, unbelted, or youth-related.
The most common type of crash in Clark County are mature-related crashes, involving a driver 55 years or older, the OSHP online user guide explained. In Clark County, 1,142 of the 3,272 crashes are mature-related.
Crash severities are divided into five categories: fatal, serious injury suspected, minor injury suspected, injury possible, or property damage only.
This year, seven of the Clark County crashes were fatal with most crashes classified as property damage only.
Users can search for crash data from 2014 up to the year-to-date.
But, the data is not in real-time.
Law enforcement agencies will submit their crash reports to the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS), which maintains Ohio’s Electronic Crash System, Cvetan said. Then, the OSHP Statistical Analysis Unit (SAU), creators of the OSTATS dashboards, will transfer the data into their system, which then updates the website.
Cvetan said the website is updated every Monday, unless there is a holiday.
Another tool, within OSTATS is the street-by-street filter, which shows where each crash occurs in relevance to the street.
“Crashes are mapped to the best of our ability,” the user guide states. “Some crashes come in with a bad latitude/longitude from agencies and are mapped with other methods or are hand located.”
On average, there are about 25,000 crashes uploaded monthly statewide, Cvetan said.
For 2019, Clark County has had 3,272 out of 281,838 crashes recorded statewide.
“We’ve been using data like this for decades to determine where we need to work and where we need to focus on - not only our enforcement, but our educational efforts to bring crashes down in Ohio,” Cvetan, said.
The OSHP not only uses this data statewide, each OSHP post uses this information for their daily line assignments.
“What we do every year - we actually look at the maps and find out where the high crash areas are and then we adjust our line assignments,” Lt. Brian Aller, commander of the Springfield Post of the OSHP said. “When a trooper goes on duty, they have specific line assignments that we give them for two or even four-hour periods.”
The Springfield Post has found crash hot-spots on I-70, U.S. 68, SR 41, and SR 4. Based on the amount of resources, the post splits the county down the middle. For example, line assignments could be I-70 East or I-70 West with two to four troopers for the two-county area, Aller said.
According to the OSHP statistics, enforcement stops and non-enforcement activities were down for 2019 compared to the previous year. There were 8,561 enforcement stops and 12,829 non-enforcement activities in Clark County in 2018. In 2019, there were 7,573 enforcement stops and 11,764 non-enforcement activities.
“Last year (2018) we were down to approximately eight to nine troopers and this year we are up to 14,” Aller said. “We’re really starting to pick up the pace when it comes to stopping cars and trying to get the criminal element off the road.”
However, the new troopers are still in training, which means two troopers are assigned to each car.
“In 2020, I would expect our activity overall whether it be traffic stops, citations, OVIs, handling crashes – it’s all going to increase,” Aller said.
The crash data includes crash reports from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Enon Police Department, German Township Police Department, South Charleston Police Department, Springfield OSHP, Springfield Police Department, and Wittenberg University Police Department for the Clark County area.
But, German Township Police Chief Michael Stitzel said, “We submit data to the state through their module. I don’t know if the data always shows up through the OSHP.”
According to the crash data, German Twp. had 49 crashes in 2019.
Stitzel said, the department has had a total of 59 crashes as of Nov. 11 - private property crashes are not included because there is usually only an exchange of information.
If departments are seeing discrepancies in the data for crashes they know have been uploaded, Cvetan said the department should contact the SAU.
“That’s certainty something we would like to know about because anytime you are working with electronics and downloading things,” Cvetan said. “Things could be lost potentially.”
The German Township Police Department uses OSHP’s data indirectly by meeting with Aller during police chief meetings and discussing crash hot-spots.
A high-intensity crash area in German Twp. is a ¼ mile of road starting at Miller Road on 41 to Johnson Road.
An increase in rear-end crashes occur during 5 and 8 p.m., Stitzel said.
During this peak time, Stitzel tries to have more cars patrolling.
“When drivers see a cop car everybody slows down, you don’t have as many people being mischievous in some of their driving,” Stitzel said. “So that helps in the reduction of crashes too.”
Due to resources and the township’s budget, German Twp. police only operate until midnight. This means the OSHP and Clark County Sheriff’s Office takes the township crashes after that time.
“Enforcement of traffic reduces crashes and it does save lives,” Stitzel said.
The Sheriff’s Office uses OSTATS along with their general knowledge of where problem areas are in the county to determine where to increase patrol.
“Most of our fatal crashes are typically on the west end of the county,” Maj. Andy Reynolds of the road patrol said.
Another way the sheriff’s office determines patrol is through traffic studies.
“If we receive a complaint of excessive speeding in an area and a resident thinks we need to do a traffic study to get the speed limit lowered - we will coordinate that with ODOT,” Reynolds said. “They too will look at these crash stats and get information that way to help with their study.”
The Sheriff’s Office has requested a traffic study to be done on North Medway New Carlisle Road due to the amount of crashes and speeding that a resident reported.
“There is a significant amount (of crashes) and we have increased patrol,” Reynolds said after looking at the crash data collected in that area.
Reynolds said Sheriff Deborah Burchett has increased personnel as a whole within the entire department and he believes they should continue to do that in 2020 by working with county commissioners and other governmental bodies within the county.
Other agencies that can use OSTATS is Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Safe Communities Coalitions, county engineers, the media, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and the general public, Cvetan said.
With the goal of keeping Ohio roadways safer, MADD can look at which counties have an increase in impaired driving and decide to speak in those communities, Cvetan said.
All other agencies and the general public now have a tool to compare and analyze the crash data in their specific county.
“They can actually see what is going on in their area that they live, which is neat,” Aller said, “You can see what crashes have been handled, how many OVIs are happening in their areas, and how many arrests the state patrol has made.”
In the future, Cvetan said he anticipates improvements to OSTATS with additional crash variable filters, roadway filters, and improved base maps.
This new tool not only helps plan the future, but it assists in reviewing what has been done.
“It’s just a new tool,” Cvetan said. “I think it paints a really good picture of what’s going on as far as crashes within an area – that is right at everyone’s’ fingertips.”