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Patrol to target motorcycles

January 7, 2010

Patrol to target motorcycles

Motorcycle riders who operate at unsafe speeds or who demonstrate other crash-causing behavior are going to be the target of troopers at the local Ohio Highway Patrol post in the New Year.

Washington County was the site of three motorcycle fatalities in 2009. In all, eight people died on area roads in 2009, down one death from the previous year, according to the patrol.

“We’ve had an increased number of traffic complaint calls about motorcycles in general, and an increase in crashes involving motorcycles,” said Sgt. Dave Garber, with the Marietta post of the Ohio Highway Patrol.

Statewide, 1,014 people died in traffic crashes in 2009, down 177 from the previous year. The total, although not official yet, is expected to be a historical low for the state.

“Local police departments have up to six months to report fatalities, so the figure may go up a little, but we still expect it to be among the lowest we’ve ever seen,” said Lindsay Komlanc, Ohio Public Safety spokesperson.

Alcohol and drug use by motorists continues to be a concern both locally and statewide.

Operator impairment was a factor in at least three of last year’s fatal crashes in Washington County, according to the Ohio Highway Patrol. Also, 274 motorists were arrested in the county in 2009 for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, up 22 arrests from the previous year.

Also of concern, so-called aggressive stops – where a motorist is driving reckless or more than 20 mph over the speed limit -topped 1,100 in the county for the second year in a row.

Garber said 1,126 motorists were stopped in 2009 in the area for aggressive driving. It was two more stops than was made in the previous year.

“The majority of those stops are for speed, 20 mph-plus over the limit,” he said.

In addition to targeting motorcycles, Garber said there is a statewide initiative to target crash-causing behavior in younger motorists.

“I don’t think we’ve seen any increase or decrease in crashes involving juveniles, but the state as a while has seen an increase of juveniles in motor vehicle crashes.”

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