TALLMADGE — While the Tallmadge Circle is the Number 1 high crash intersection locally, its ranking of 29th in the region surprises the police chief.

"I’m surprised that the Circle is only ranked 29th in the region," Tallmadge Police Chief Ronald Williams says. "That intersection has eight major streets dumping into it. We have many minor accidents there where the car in front starts to go, stops and then is struck in the rear. We can’t do much to impact those types of crashes."

The Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study was expected to vote to adopt its Draft 2014-2016 Traffic Crash Report Update on March 8. "This is our latest crash report for the Greater Akron area," AMATS Public Information Coordinator Kerry Prater says, adding, "… This report is not the official report yet and won't be until the AMATS Policy Committee votes on this item." 

AMATS Transportation Engineer Dave Pulay, the primary author of the report, says agency officials reviewed more than 54,600 crash records from the Ohio Department of Public Safety and then identified and ranked high-crash roadways, intersections and freeways by a composite score. The composite scores for each intersection and section of road takes into account the street’s length, daily traffic volume, total crashes and crash severity. Pulay says AMATS receives funding from federal programs, which it, in turn, uses to assist communities cover the costs of safety-related improvements and maintenance. "We’re kind of the conduit for federal transportation funds in our area," he says.

Williams says he looks forward to seeing a report compiling vehicle crashes between 2014 and 2016 in Portage and Summit counties, saying, "We can share that data with officers in an effort to reduce traffic crashes."

The number one high-crash intersection in Tallmadge was the Circle — an intersection which ranked 29th overall in traffic crashes on the Greater Akron area’s roadways and intersections. In local rankings, the intersection of Northeast Avenue (state Route 91) and East Howe Road/North Munroe Avenue was second, accident-wise, followed by the intersection of North Avenue (state Route 91) and Howe Road; Northeast Avenue (state Route 91) and Kent Road; and the intersection of Glenwood Drive and Liberty Road.

Williams says the Northeast Avenue roundabout "has an issue" with two westbound lanes merging into the traffic circle. "There have been talks about narrowing westbound traffic to one lane at the roundabout," according to the police chief. "We currently have a traffic speed trailer positioned at Northeast Avenue and the city limits," he says, "to help slow inbound traffic to that intersection."

He adds North Avenue and Howe Road and Northeast Avenue and Kent Drive are high volume intersections that his department patrols numerous times during the day.

In the AMATS previous Traffic Crash Report, which covered the years 2013-15, Tallmadge Circle was ranked 30th overall in traffic crashes on Greater Akron area’s roadways and intersections. According to the 2013-15 report, the intersection of Northeast Avenue (state Route 91) and East Howe Road/North Munroe Avenue was ranked 90th; the intersection of North Avenue (state Route 91) and Howe Road, 249th; and the intersection of Northeast Avenue (state Route 91) and Kent Road did not make the list.

The overall conclusion to draw from the 2014-16 traffic crash memorandum, according to Pulay, is that "there has been very little change since 2015. We had a couple low years in 2009 and 2010 because of the recession and less traffic, especially optional trips but since then things have inched back up some. Are drivers getting better or worse? I’m not sure. What I’m about to say is only my opinion; vehicles and highways are getting safer but drivers are getting worse so it offsets those gains. I think there is a general lack of respect for the driving these days."

Reporter Ellin Walsh can be reached at 330-541-9419, ewalsh@recordpub.com or @EllinWalsh_RPC.