Safe Communities urges caution as time changes

From SAFE COMMUNITIES OF WOOD COUNTY Safe Communities announced today that there have been 11 fatal crashes to date compared to the 13 last year at this time. *** As the end of the year approaches, we are now reaching the time of the year everyone enjoys Daylight Savings Time. However, this one-hour change may have negative effects when it comes to road safety. According to the National Safety Council, the risk of being in a fatal crash is three times greater at night. Therefore, with night approaching sooner and the days getting shorter, please take extra caution when driving in the dark. Along with being more cautious at night, every driver should know the warning signs of, and how to avoid, drowsy driving. Having trouble keeping your head up, nodding off, veering into another lane or onto the rumble strip, and frequent yawning — are all signals that you are too drowsy to drive safely. Drowsy driving is estimated to contribute to 1.2 million collisions annually, resulting in potentially 5,000 to 8,000 fatalities per year. Despite these risks, experts agree that drowsy driving is far too prevalent. Lack of sleep slows reaction time, impairs judgment, and increases the risk of dozing off while driving. As we fall back and head towards winter, follow these tips to reduce accidents after the clocks change: • Keep your regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time you normally would, so you can benefit from that extra hour of sleep. • Before you pull out of the driveway, clean your headlights, brake lights and signal lights. • Give yourself plenty of time, time to get where you need or want to go. • Approach all crosswalks, intersections and transit stops with caution, as it will be harder to see pedestrians and cyclists • Heed the speed limits and adjust your speed accordingly to the weather conditions. • Maintain a safe following distance so you’re prepared to react under any situation

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Children’s Librarian Maria Simon on the mend from injuries suffered in crash

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Maria Simon is back to work at the Wood County District Public Library. Though she’s not up to rocking out, the children’s librarian is feeling well enough to return to see the Libraries Rock summer reading program through the end of the summer. Simon was seriously injured June 6 in an automobile accident on I-75. She returned to work with restrictions a week ago. Simon said she was very pleased to be back, even if it’s just part time. She attended the library’s Board of Trustees meeting Monday. She suffered a broken sternum and a concussion, so she said she’s having to limit her contact with the public. “Just a wave is all I need,” she said of well-wishers. She said that the library is a very private place, so many people probably aren’t aware of where she’s been. They may assume she’s been on vacation, Simon said. The accident occurred just south of Cygnet Road in Wood County when the Toyota Prius she was driving struck another car that was driving erratically. While trying to avoid that car she also made contact with a tractor-trailer. She, her husband Marc Simon, Bowling Green State University professor, and her mother, Mary Roemer, of South Bend, Indiana were on their way back to Bowling Green after traveling to Cincinnati to see a show the Simons’ daughter and son were performing. Roemer was very seriously injured who was taken by air ambulance to St. Vincent’s in Toledo. She has now been transferred to a skilled nursing facility in South Bend. So in addition to her own recovery, Simon was monitoring her mother’s care. Simon said she appreciates returning to the library. “I love this place,” she said. “I love libraries. Libraries incredibly healing places, places of order and stability.  There’s answers here.” Answers are hard to come by in the world of medical care where even the experts can be baffled, especially when it comes to concussions and spinal injuries, such as those her mother suffered. That “world is full of care and concern, and definitely love and prayers. That’s very comforting, but it’s extremely scary.” Back in the library “is very comforting and knowledgeable and orderly. And this place is a lot more fun.” Simon said that she especially missed the children. Her injuries knocked her out of action just as the summer reading program with the theme Libraries Rock had started rolling. But her staff “didn’t miss a beat,” she said. “They are rock stars.” She’s even turned to the library collection to study up of the injuries she and her mother suffered. Sometimes that means a book aimed at young readers since it is written in easy-to-understand terms. Simon though would like some answers from the legal system. As far as she knows no charges have been pressed against the other driver. And she still has a lot of questions about what led up the accident. County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson said his office “is still working with the State Highway Patrol to see what information and evidence is available.”  

Safe Communities cautions against drinking & driving over the July 4th holiday

From SAFE COMMUNITIES OF WOOD COUNTY This year as we celebrate our country’s birthday, thousands of families take to their cars driving to neighborhood cookouts, family picnics, and other summer festivities. Sadly, some of their Independence Day celebrations will end in tragedy as too many people decide to drink and drive. Unfortunately, their bad choices have lasting effects on families. According to NHTSA, 37,361 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2017, and 28 percent (10,497) of those fatalities occurred in a crash during which the driver had a BAC over the legal limit of .08. With Fourth of July festivities wrapping up in the evening or late at night, more cars will be on the roads. Nighttime is especially dangerous: the rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes during the 2017 July Fourth holiday period was more than three times higher at night than it was during the day. It’s essential that our community members understand the safety and financial risks they take when they drink and drive. Under no circumstance is it ever acceptable to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after you’ve been drinking. Doing so endangers you and everyone on the road with you. Before you head out for your celebrations, make sure you plan a sober way home. Law enforcement in Wood County is taking part in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign during the Fourth of July holiday weekend to put an end to drunk driving. In support of law enforcement’s dedication to protecting the lives of residents in their communities, you’ll see increased enforcement on the roads zero tolerance for those who drive impaired.

‘Saved by the Belt’ more than just a slogan for some

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Last October, Richard “Fuzzy” David was driving a dump truck down U.S. 6 for his job with Jim Palmer Excavating when he was struck head-on. His truck was rammed so hard, it was turned sideways, the cab started to tear off the frame, and the driver’s door was pried open. David’s seat belt was credited with keeping him from flying out of the dump truck. He was injured, but was able to return to work – thanks to be buckled up at the time of the crash, said Sean Brennan, a friend and safety coordinator at Jim Palmer Excavating “He was saved by his belt,” Brennan said last week during a “Click It or Ticket” promotion organized by Wood County Safe Communities at Thayer Ford in Bowling Green. “There’s no way you can brace yourself,” Brennan said. “There’s no way you can get a seat belt on at the last minute.” Not only is wearing seat belts the law, it’s common sense, he added. Overall, Wood County motorists do pretty well at wearing their seat belts, according to Ohio State Patrol Lt Angel Burgos and Sandy Wiechman, coordinator of Wood County Safety Communities. Motorists’ use of seat belts in the county is 93 percent, compared to 84.3 percent in Ohio. Stops at various checkpoints in Wood County showed differing levels of compliance by drivers. The highest seat belt use (100 percent) was found in northern Wood County at Ohio 795 near the Interstate 75 interchange. The lowest compliance (83 percent) was found in southern Wood County on Ohio 18 at the I-75 interchange. Since 1975, seat belts have been credited with saving more than 300,000 lives in the U.S., according to Edgar Avila, president and chief executive officer of AAA. Last year, the Midwest ranked second in the nation for highest seat belt usage. “Let’s shoot for first place next year,” Avila said. Avila also stressed that it’s the driver’s duty to make sure everyone in the vehicle is belted in. “You are responsible for everyone riding in your vehicle,” he said. “Don’t be a casualty. Please wear your seat belts.” In Wood County, 38 percent of the fatal crashes in 2016 involved unbelted drivers and passengers. That number dropped in 2017 to 33 percent. “We need to do better,” Wiechman said. She suggested that motorists make it automatic to buckle up anytime they get into a vehicle. “Just like brushing your teeth,” she said. “It only takes one time for a tragedy to happen.” Friday’s “Click It or Ticket” event was held at the beginning of the nation’s big driving Memorial Day weekend at the start of summer. Also receiving a “Saved By the Belt” award, but not present, were Levi Colley and Emily Sattler. The two were on Eckel Junction Road in Perrysburg when they were struck by a vehicle backing out of a driveway. “The force was so great, they were overturned,” Wiechman said. But neither were thrown out. “We’re so grateful their belts held them in place.”

BG bicyclists and motorists learn how to share the road

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bicyclists are being trained this week to teach other cyclists how to navigate the streets in Bowling Green. The goal is to show bicyclists and motorists how to share the roads. “We want to build up the bike friendliness of the community,” said Steve Langendorfer, of the Bicycle Safety Commission. So for three days this week, five people are being trained by Yay Bikes, a bicycle safety advocacy group. Those local trainers will then help educate riders in the Bowling Green community about the proper way to bicycle city streets. “It’s to help both bicyclists and motor vehicle operators understand that bicyclists are vehicles,” Langendorfer said. “They have the same rights and the same responsibilities.” Ultimately, the goal is to make more Bowling Green residents feel safe riding city streets by teaching them the rules of the road. “So people feel more comfortable as bicyclists – and debunk some of the myths,” Langendorfer said Wednesday as a team of riders were being trained. One of the big myths is that bicyclists should hug the edge of the road. The actual rule is that cyclists should ride about three feet from the right edge of the roadway – just about where a vehicle’s passenger side tire travels. Motor vehicles should give the cyclists another three feet of space as they pass. Bicyclists should stop at “all the reds” – stop signs, red lights, Langendorfer said. And they should use hand signals. While they have the same rights as motorists, “they also have the same responsibilities,” he added. Midwestern drivers tend to be cordial to bicyclists, he said. If they lay on the horn in Bowling Green, it’s usually to cyclists, not at them. “People in Bowling Green are very friendly,” Langendorfer said. “About the only time anyone honks is if they know you.” “No motorist is trying to run people down,” he said. But to make local residents more comfortable riding two-wheeled vehicles around town, the Bicycle Safety Commission and Yay Bikes program plan to host “slow rolls” for groups, “buddy rides” for people to ride together to work, family rides, and community rides for large groups on set times each week. The commission plans to develop routes of various lengths for residents to ride. The hope is that by having regular rides in the city, the street culture will change and motorists will become more accustomed to sharing the road with bicyclists, he said. Efforts will also be made to teach young riders, with the Parks and Recreation Department holding a bicycle camp for kids ages 6 to 10. “Our goal is to improve the education.” The bicycle safety efforts are being paid for with a $9,500 ODOT grant for educational events. Yay Bikes was hired to conduct the training. The theory is that training a community of bicyclists and motorists who can coexist on the same roadways is much more affordable than expensive bike lanes. Several events are planned in May to help promote bike safety, including a demonstration by Right Direction for third graders on May 15, the Ride of Silence on May 16 starting in City Park at 6:30 p.m., and the Ride to School and Work Day on May 18.

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.

BGSU marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month with multiple events

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University will host several events during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April. Highlights of the month include “What Were You Wearing,” an exhibit by sexual assault survivors to challenge victim-blaming statements; the Sexual Assault Awareness Month 5K and Dog Walk; and the Clothesline Project. Additional events include free and confidential HIV testing, peer education presentations and a Step Up Step In basketball tournament. Guests can visit “What Were You Wearing” between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. April 11 in 208 Bowen-Thompson Student Union. This event is a collaboration between BGSU and the community, co-hosted by It’s on Us and The Cocoon, with support from the BGSU Women’s Center and Apparel Merchandising and Product Development Program. The Sexual Assault Awareness Month 5K and Dog Walk begins at 10 a.m. April 14 at the BGSU Student Recreation Center. Participants can register at Participants can also register for the We Are One Team (WA1T) Walk/Run, which aims to promote social justice, diversity, inclusion and teamwork through the power of sport. This year’s event will begin at 11 a.m. April 15 at Doyt Perry Stadium. For more information, contact Amanda Washko at The Clothesline Project, a visual display that bears witness to violence against women, will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 18 on the Education Lawn. In the event of rain, it will be held in 208 Union. The shirts in this display have been designed by survivors or those who care about them. The Wood County Clothesline Project began in 1995 and is protected and maintained by The Cocoon. On April 25, everyone is encouraged to wear jeans as a visible means of protest against the misconceptions that surround sexual assault. To view a complete list of calendar events and learn more about BGSU’s sexual violence prevention efforts, visit