Twelve people died in traffic crashes on Portage County roads in 2013, equaling the number who were killed in that manner in 2012, according to the Ohio Highway Patrol and local traffic safety advocates.

The Portage County total contributed to a year in which the state of Ohio posted the fewest traffic deaths -- 983 ­­-- since the Ohio Highway Patrol began keeping statistics in 1965.

As of Jan. 17, there were no fatal crashes in Portage County in the new year, according to the highway patrol.

Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci said records show Portage County having between 35 and 40 traffic fatalities during some years in the 1970s-80s. He said over the years, the social stigma of drunken driving can be credited in part with reducing the number of fatal crashes.

"Back then, it wasn't as socially unacceptable to drive drunk. You didn't have MADD [Mothers Against Drunk Driving]," he said.

Eight of the crashes took place in rural areas within the jurisdiction of the highway patrol's Ravenna post, while four were within city limits -- three in Aurora and one in Ravenna, according to the highway patrol.

According to the Portage County Fatal Review Board, which meets quarterly to review and discuss the reasons behind fatal traffic crashes in the county, two-thirds of the fatal crashes took place during daytime hours.

Three fatal crashes involved drivers ages 15 to 21, while four involved drivers ages 71 and up. To help combat crashes among senior citizens, AAA will offer senior driving education at the Portage County Senior Center this spring, said Lynette Blasiman, director of the Portage County Safe Communities coalition.

Three fatalities were the result of alcohol or drug use, while speed, reckless operation, failure to control or obey marked lanes and failure to yield to traffic also were among the causes. One fatal crash was the result of a medical condition, according to the review board.


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