Question: What’s the No. 1 high-crash intersection in the city of Stow?
Answer (which will probably not surprise many motorists): Darrow and Graham roads, which also was ranked seventh of Greater Akron area’s roadways and intersections.
The Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study adopted its 2014-2016 Traffic Crash Report Update this month, which compiles vehicle crashes between 2014 and 2016 in Portage and Summit counties. "This is our latest crash report for the Greater Akron area," AMATS Public Information Coordinator Kerry Prater says.
Looking for patterns, Stow Police Chief Jeff Film says he’s asked his department’s records division to run statistics on the Stow intersections which appear on the report.
In local rankings, the intersection of Graham and Fishcreek roads was second, accident-wise, followed by the intersection of Kent and Darrow roads; the intersection of Darrow and Norton roads; the intersection of Kent and Charring Cross roads; the intersection of Stow and Call roads; and the intersection of Fishcreek and Stow roads.
In Munroe Falls, the section of roadway that has the most number of vehicle crashes is North Main Street (Route 91) from Munroe Falls Avenue to North River Road.
This section had 21 crashes from 2014 to 2016, which ranked 120th on the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study’s preliminary list of high crash roadway sections.
No intersections in Munroe Falls were on AMATS’ high-crash intersection list in either 2013-15 or 2014-16.
In AMATS previous Traffic Crash Report, which covered the years 2013-15, the intersection of Darrow and Graham roads was ranked eighth overall in traffic crashes on Greater Akron area’s roadways and intersections. According to the 2013-15 report, the intersection of Graham and Fishcreek roads was ranked 28th; the intersection of Kent and Darrow roads, 169th; the intersection of Darrow and Norton roads, 222; the intersection of Kent and Charring Cross roads did not make the list; the intersection of Stow and Call roads, 223; and the intersection of Fishcreek and Stow roads, 284.
In AMATS’ previous Traffic Crash Report, which covered the years 2013-15, Route 91 from Munroe Falls Avenue to North River had 23 crashes and ranked 107th on the list of high-crash roadway sections.
Dave Pulay, transportation engineer for AMATS, said there were nine crashes on this section of road in 2012, nine in 2013, six in 2014, eight in 2015 and seven in 2016.
Munroe Falls Service Director Jim Bowery said "most" of the crashes he is aware of in this section of Route 91 are "fender benders. People running into the back of other people who are at the railroad (crossing). They don’t stop fast enough."
Bowery said if there is a concern, his department typically will work with the police and engineer on ways to improve the area.
Munroe Falls Police Chief Jerry Hughes said there were 66 vehicle crashes in the city in 2017, and "the vast majority were on North Main (Street), South Main, and/or Munroe Falls (Avenue), and were minor in nature."
Hughes noted he worked to have the traffic light at Main Street and Munroe Falls Avenue changed so that a green left turn arrow was available to northbound traffic on South Main Street. This way, vehicles can turn on to Munroe Falls Avenue when a train travels through on Main Street.
"My plan was to try to alleviate the frustration that motorists had waiting for the trains, and to cut down on cars trying to make U-turns to go the other way," said Hughes.
The chief added the city is "lucky" because "we don’t really have high traffic-high accident dangerous intersections."
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 to cover the costs of safety-related improvements and maintenance. "We’re kind of the conduit for federal transportation funds in our area," he said.
Pulay added the purpose of his organization’s crash studies is "to bring these locations to the communities’ attention and then it’s kind of up to them to pursue studies and such, and then pursue funding.
"The state has a very aggressive safety program," said Pulay, who added the state spends more than $100 million each year on safety improvements. He noted that communities can apply for state grant money to improve the safety of roads.
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 and getting safer but drivers are getting worse so it offsets those gains. I think there is a general lack of respect for driving these days."
Reporter Ellin Walsh can be reached at 330-541-9419, firstname.lastname@example.org or @EllinWalsh_RPC.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, email@example.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.