SUMMIT COUNTY -- According to statistics released earlier this month by the Ohio State Highway Patrol Summit County is ranked near top of the list for most fatal accidents in Ohio, with Akron seeing the largest increase.
The numbers released Feb. 16 show Summit County ranks fifth in the state in fatal vehicle crashes, jumping 52 percent from 2015 to 2016.
In 2015 there were 25 traffic fatalities in Summit County. That number jumped to 40 in 2016.
"We ranked third in the state with drug-related OVI fatalities last year and with unbelted fatalities we ranked fifth," OSHP Sgt. John Hromiak said.
According to Hromiak, failure to use seat belts and drivers impaired by drugs and alcohol continue to be contributing factors.
To help cut down on the growing numbers of traffic fatalities, OSHP will be taking part in seat belt enforcement efforts during the spring and summer called "seat belt and OVI Tac-squads," according to Hromiak.
"We will go where we've had a high fatality count and we will saturate that area for about four days," Hromiak said.
Officers hit the areas looking for seat belt violators and drivers operating vehicles under the influence, he said.
However, even with past efforts which included the national "Click It Or Ticket" campaign, the number of fatalities have grown.
In 2016, 21 of the Summit County's fatal crashes were due to drivers operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, 12 deaths due to the driver under the influence of drugs and 21 deaths due to not using safety restraints.
Of all fatal traffic crashes over the period from 2015 to 2016, 28, or 44 percent, of Summit County's fatal crashes occurred in Akron.
In 2015, 45 percent of fatal crashes in Akron were due to drivers being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, with an average blood alcohol content of .25 percent. Ohio's legal limit is .08 percent. And 36 percent of the fatal crashes were due to not wearing seat belts.
In 2016, 67 percent of the fatal crashes were due to drivers being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, with an average blood alcohol content of .20 percent. And 27 percent of fatal traffic deaths were due to not using seat belts, according to OSHP.
Other counties in the top five include; Franklin, Cuyahoga, Hamilton and Montgomery.
"Anytime you get behind the wheel, make sure you buckle up and make sure you're responsible for your passengers to buckle up," Hromiak said.
Rear seat passengers under the age of 16 must wear a seat belt according to law, he added.
"Be responsible if you get behind the wheel," Hromiak said. "Be a defensive driver."
Hromiak also asks that drivers watch out for the increase of motorcyclists the spring will bring as well as report anything they see which could be drug or alcohol related.
"If you see someone who might be alcohol impaired or drug impaired call into the Highway Patrol or other police agency," he said.