Safe Communities sending out warning not to drive distracted

From WOOD COUNTY SAFE COMMUNITIES Wood County Safe Communities announced today that there have been four fatal crashes in Wood County for calendar year 2018, compared to five for the same time frame in 2017. *** At some point, many of us have witnessed a distracted driver; they are often easy to spot. Some reading this article may even admit to driving distracted in the past. With so many individuals tuned in to smartphones, distracted driving has become one of the most common causes of fatalities on the roads. This scenario provides an example of why Safe Communities of Wood County is teaming up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to reach all drivers with an important warning: U Drive. U Text. U Pay. According to NHTSA, in 2016, 3,450 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Nearly one-tenth of all fatal crashes in 2016 were reported as distraction-affected. Texting while driving has become an especially problematic trend among millennials. According to NHTSA, young drivers, ages 16 to 24, have been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers since 2007. “We can’t say it enough: distracted driving is a life or death issue,” said Sandy Wiechman, Safe Communities Coordinator for Wood County. “What people need to understand is how dangerous it is to take your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and concentration off the task of driving safely. It only takes a few seconds for a child to run into the street or for you to drive through a red light or stop sign and crash, potentially killing someone or yourself. That’s why during April, the police presence on Ohio roads will increase. Anyone who is caught texting and driving will pay.” “Too many drivers are ignoring their responsibilities behind the wheel,” said Wiechman. “Do the right thing—put your phone away when you get behind the wheel.

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Safe Communities wants happy & safe ending for New Year’s celebrations

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The numbers on impaired driving are nothing to celebrate. This year, 31 percent of the fatal crashes in Wood County involved impaired driving, said Sandra Wiechman, the Safe Communities coordinator for Wood County at a press briefing Thursday. Sgt. Shawn Fosgate, assistant post commander of the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Bowling Green Post, said that the percentages of accidents, 30 percent, and arrest related to OVI, 10 percent, remain constant. With more incidents that means “the numbers are going up.” That’s a trend that Wiechman, Fosgate, BG Police Chief Tony Hetrick, and the other partners in Wood County Safe Communities Coalition work year round to reverse. For the fifth time Safe Communities will start the year by sponsoring Swallow Your Pride, Call for a Ride. Those who feel unable to drive on New Year’s Eve can call 419-823-7765 from 11 p.m. Dec. 31 through 4 a.m. Jan. 1 and get a ride through the initiative. The program has supplied more than 600 rides in its first four years. Wiechman said three vans – two provided by the Thayer Family Dealerships and one by the Committee on Aging – are available to get people home from parties and bars safely. “If you plan to drink, don’t drive, and if you plan to drive, don’t drink,” said Edgar Avila, president and CEO of AAA Northwest Ohio. Planning ahead is important, Wiechman said, “so you don’t decide when you’re impaired. … It only takes one time for a tragedy to happen.” The Swallow Your Pride program is just one option for a safe ride home. There’s Super Cab and ride sharing services, such as Uber or Lyft, where available. There’s also the friend who serves as a designated driver. “There’s no reason to drive impaired driving in Wood County or Bowling Green,” Wiechman said. Wiechman said that being impaired because of alcohol or drugs are not the only problems. She urged people…

Landlord and renter responsibilities examined in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   In a college town with nearly 7,000 rental units, there’s an awful lot of headbutting between landlords and renters and homeowning neighbors. When problems occur with home maintenance, is it the landlords’ responsibility to prove that their housing meets safety standards? Or is the onus on the renters to notify authorities if their housing is substandard? For years, Bowling Green officials have debated this question. Other Ohio college towns – like Kent, Oxford and Athens – have mandatory rental inspection and licensing programs. Bowling Green has preferred to make sure there are services in place that respond to rental problems as they arise. Following are various viewpoints in Bowling Green, including those from Mayor Dick Edwards, BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey and landlord Bob Maurer. Those who respond to complaints – the health district, fire division, building inspection and planning office – also share their perspectives. People closest to the students, like BGSU legal services and some East Side residents, also weigh in. And officials from rental inspection programs in Athens, Kent and Oxford talk about their experiences. EYE-OPENING TOUR Early this fall, some BGSU students asked their professor Neocles Leontis to help them get out of a lease at a rental property they felt was unsafe. “I could not believe it was allowed to be rented,” said Rose Hess, who toured the house. Photos taken during the tour show a ceiling fan dangling from the ceiling, a filthy washing machine that wasn’t working, a dryer that was not vented, a stove that didn’t work, fuse boxes without covers, and bricks holding open windows. “These properties are unrentable, yet they are being rented,” Hess said. “We need interior inspections and licensing.” Leontis agreed. “Parents who send their kids to Bowling Green can have no assurance when they rent a house that it’s safe.” Inspections are required of restaurants – the same should be standard for rental housing,…

Four pedestrian crosswalks being added to East Wooster

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   BGSU students crossing East Wooster Street will have to worry less about dodging traffic – and motorists will have to be on their toes to not miss the four new crosswalks being added to the street. Four pedestrian crosswalks are being installed on East Wooster Street – one by the Stroh Center, and three between the traffic lights at Manville and South College avenues. A pedestrian safety study was conducted in the fall of 2015 around the Bowling Green State University campus, to identify locations that may need marked crosswalks. “They took all likely crossing points,” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said. “Our goal is to ensure everybody can cross the road.” The four crosswalks, costing a combined total of $489,191, are being paid for entirely by the Ohio Department of Transportation. Though there will be three crosswalks in a very short distance between the existing crosswalks at Manville and South College streets, Fawcett said the study did not foresee any resulting traffic congestion on East Wooster Street. “They incorporated the traffic counts in their studies,” he said. The construction going on now on East Wooster is the underground infrastructure needed, plus markings and signage. Plans call for the signals to be installed early next year. There are two different types of crosswalks being installed. Both types are new to Bowling Green. Two will be more traditional crosswalks with “refuge islands” in the middle of the street. The other two will be pedestrian hybrid beacons. The two pedestrian islands, which will have 6-inch high curbs, will be located in the middle of East Wooster Street – one near Founders residence hall (just east of Manville Avenue) and the other just west of the Falcon Health Center. They will be installed this year. The refuge islands in the middle will allow pedestrians to only worry about traffic from one direction at a time. “The goal for the island…

Commercial drivers play part in keeping roads safe

From WOOD COUNTY SAFE COMMUNITIES Wood County Safe Communities announced today (Sept. 6, 2017) that there have been 10 fatal crashes in Wood County compared to nine through this same period last year. September 10-16, 2017 is National Commercial Vehicle Appreciation Week. Please take a moment to honor all professional drivers for their hard work and commitment in tackling one of the economy’s most demanding and important jobs. These men and women are not only doing their jobs but also working to keep our highways safe. Also, September 17-23, 2017 is Child Passenger Safety Seat Awareness week. In Wood County, there has been a fatality involving a child under the age of 13 in calendar year 2017. It is essential for parents to make sure child safety equipment in their vehicles is current with state and federal regulations and installed properly. Child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers. Car seats are most effective when installed properly and used correctly. Residents of Wood County are encouraged to contact either Wood County Hospital or Safe Kids of Greater Toledo to schedule a car seat inspection. For More Information:  Lt. Angel Burgos, Ohio State Highway

ODOT remembers those killed in construction zones

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Drivers in this part of the state have become very accustomed to encountering orange cones the last few years. As the Ohio Department of Transportation worked to widen Interstate 75 from two to three lanes, it became commonplace for drivers to have to maneuver around construction zones. That may have helped lead to some of the 6,000 work zone crashes in Ohio last year, according to Rebecca Shirling, spokesperson for ODOT District 2 in Bowling Green. So as a reminder to drivers to slow down in work zones, ODOT placed a display at the northbound rest area on I-75, just south of Bowling Green. The display represents 26 workers who were killed last year statewide in road work zones. That includes ODOT workers, tow truck drivers, law enforcement and utility workers. “These are people who didn’t go home,” Shirling said. “It’s frustrating waiting in traffic sometimes, but we forget these people had families to go home to.” The display is intended to be a stark reminder of the consequences of not paying attention. “We’ve had so much construction that people are becoming numb to it,” Shirling said. “We had a lot more work zone crashes. We had a larger construction zone than previous years.” Though message boards are being used to stress the reduced speed limits, they don’t always result in drivers slowing down. “A large percentage were people following too closely or being distracted by the work going on,” Shirling said. ODOT is working more closely with law enforcement and emergency responders to get roads open as soon as possible after crashes, so backups are reduced. And speed limit signs are being posted in work zones that aren’t active, to let drivers know they don’t need to slow down needlessly. Extra safety precautions are also being used for night crews, including halo lights on their helmets, and reflective markers on their sleeves and pantlegs. Night crews…