I-Team: soaring number of winter weather crashes

CLEVELAND- The FOX 8 I-Team has found an alarming spike in the number of crashes on the roads this year tied to winter weather.

We found the latest number sharply higher than it was during the same period last year. And it’s more than double the number from the same period two years ago.

The Ohio Highway Patrol says this winter season there have been 13, 353 crashes statewide with snow, ice, or slush a factor in what happened. The patrol points out, those may not be the only reasons for the crashes. Not necessarily, even the main reasons. But again, wintry weather was considered significant enough in those cases for police to make note of their impact on what happened.

At Cleveland’s Classic Auto Body, the folks there don’t need stats. They can gauge what’s going on out on the roads based on the cars coming in for repair. Jerry Kruszynski said, "Yeah, yesterday we did 5 of ‘em ready to deliver today." He added, "This year it’s been a whole lot busier than last year. That's for sure."

While it seems this winter has been messy more often, the highway patrol says you can’t blame the increase in crashes on the weather alone. Speeding and reckless drivers deserve blame. Don’t we all have a story about some driver zooming past us in the worst conditions? And the patrol points out, even an expanded highway may play a role. That could mean an extra lane for road crews to salt and plow.

And records show more than just an uptick in the number of crashes. The accidents have resulted in more deaths and injuries.

So, troopers recommend taking all of this as a warning. A little more caution driving in tricky weather can make a big difference.

You may have noticed electronic billboards on some highways referring to snow and ice crashes. That is part of a safety campaign by the state.

More stories on this year's winter weather.