Fairfield County Ramps Up Efforts To Keep Roads Safer
It is a deadly trend Fairfield County officials are battling: drivers crossing out of their lanes of travel and killing others. At the halfway point of 2014, Fairfield County has already matched last year's total number of fatal crashes.
Robin Hartman couldn't figure out why it was getting late and her husband wasn't home from work. She recalls taking her dog outside for a walk when authorities arrived at her home and explained her husband was killed in an auto accident.
"My husband and I were inseparable. It changed my whole life,” Hartman said.
Her husband, Donald, cruised down Blacklick Road in March on his way home. As he came to an intersection, troopers say he moved forward and into the path of a driver on State Route 158.
The collision launched Robin's crusade against distracted driving. “My husband got killed and all I can say is someone, somehow was distracted in some way.”
Meanwhile, Randee Yarnell also knows roadways in Fairfield County can be deadly. Her boyfriend Brandon died in a head-on crash on his motorcycle.
"You just kind of step back and they tell you that he's not coming back home and you just stand there. It's one of those numbing moments,” recalls Randee.
Brandon Clary and Donald Hartman are two of what is now 10 lives lost so far this year in Fairfield County. That already matches the total number of lives lost in all of last year.
In response, troopers in Fairfield County are fighting back. They're partnering with local police and deputies, as well as putting word out to the community that they're hitting the roadway with extra patrols.
Lt. Caplinger of the Ohio Highway Patrol says his main goal is to prevent crashes before they happen. He says each of the crashes share a pattern: vehicles were outside of their lanes.
He also points to two key factors: driving impaired and distracted driving.
“It's difficult when we're on duty to catch all the folks that are distracted driving because they usually see us coming,” explains Caplinger.
Proving a distraction after a crash is a difficult task. To combat distracted driving, state highway patrol will be extra visible on the roads, watching for speeding and swerving.
Robin Hartman hopes to be visible too, preaching the message she believes her pastor husband's life leaves behind: "Pay attention. Look at the road. Keep your eyes on the road. Don't text. Don't play with the radio. Someone's life is in your hands."
Of the crashes in Fairfield County so far this year, four cases involved victims who were not wearing seatbelts, while two involved drugs and alcohol.