Transportation briefs

Staff Report

Pothole legislation hopes to create cash for repairs

Kevin Landers


The road craters are back.

No matter where you drive in Ohio, you’re bound to run over or swerve around a pothole.

It’s common this time of year for our roads to crack open, but this season is one of the worst in 10 years, according to local county engineers.

Blame it on the weather. Extreme shifts in cold, thaw, rain and freeze have left roads riddled with potholes.

In Delaware County, Red Bank Road, and Miller-Paul road has some of the worst stretches of potholes.

In Knox County, someone painted an arrow on Sinky Road warning drivers ahead about the line of potholes.

Local tire repair shops are having a hard time keeping up with business.

“It makes business pick up but there are a lot of unhappy people, ” says Matt Hysell of Pond Tire in Delaware.

Striking a single pothole can set you back hundreds of dollars in repairs.

To help repair potholes across the state, Senator Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) has introduced Senate Bill 269. It would allow the state to use $30 million from the rainy day fund, to repair potholes.

“Our communities don’t have the money it’s as simple as that, what I’m looking for is not a long-term solution it’s a quick fix for very obvious reasons we desperately need it,” he says.

He says the money would be divided among counties, municipalities, and townships. Counties would receive 36.4 percent or $10.9 million, municipalities would receive 42.3 percent or $12.6 million and townships will get 21 percent or $6 million.

“Our roads are such in a deplorable condition we need to address it now,” says Yuko.

The city of Columbus reports, last year it fixed 2,786 potholes. So far this year, it’s fixed 3,819 potholes.

Franklin County Engineer reports it spent $78,673 in pothole repairs in 2017. So far this year, the county has spent $100,172.

ODOT tells us, it spent $2.6 million dollars in pothole repairs in 2017. That compares to $2.9 million so far this year to fix potholes.

Report a pothole, debris or other roadway defect to ODOT

Ohio Fatalities Involving Older Drivers Among Highest in U.S.; State Among Highest in Share and Number of Older Drivers


TRIP’s report identifies states with highest number and share of older drivers, states with highest fatality and crash rates involving older drivers, strategies to help aging motorists remain mobile, and recommended transportation improvements.

Washington, DC – While the number of older Americans continues to grow at a significant rate, the number of older drivers involved or killed in fatal traffic crashes is growing even faster, finds a new report from TRIP. With older Americans leading more mobile and active lifestyles than previous generations, it is critical that the nation adopt traffic safety improvements that will make our roads and highways safer not only for older drivers, but for all drivers.

The report, “Preserving the Mobility and Safety of Older Americans,” was released today by TRIP, a national non-profit transportation research group based in Washington, D.C. According to the report, more than 1.6 million licensed drivers in Ohio are 65 or older (6th in U.S.), comprising 20 percent of all licensed drivers in the state (15th in the U.S.). In 2016, 250 people were killed in Ohio crashes that involved at least one driver 65 or older (7th in the U.S.) and 22 percent of fatalities in the state involved at least one driver 65 or older (11th highest rate).

The TRIP report details states in the top 20 in the number of traffic fatalities involving drivers 65 or older, the increase in fatalities involving drivers 65 or over from 2012 to 2016, the number and proportion of licensed drivers 65 and older, increases in licensed drivers 65 and older from 2012 to 2016, the increase in fatalities involving at least one driver 65 and older from 2012 to 2016, and the number of drivers 65 and older killed in crashes. Data for all 50 states can be found in the report’s appendix.

According to the TRIP report, an estimated 46 million Americans are 65 or older, accounting for 15 percent of the total population. By 2060, the number of Americans 65 and older will more than double and their proportion of the total population will reach 24 percent. In the last decade, the number of licensed drivers 65 and older increased 38 percent and the proportion of licensed drivers 65 and older rose from 15 percent to 19 percent.

Older Americans are more mobile and active than ever and want to maintain that lifestyle for as long as possible. Among those 65 and older, 90 percent of travel takes place in a private vehicle and 79 percent live in car-dependent suburban and rural communities. The quality of life of older Americans is closely tied to their level of mobility.

“As transportation agencies work to reduce fatalities and serious injuries among older drivers, we are able to implement safety improvements that assist all road users,” said Rudy Malfabon, director of the Nevada Department of Transportation and chair of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Committee on Highway Traffic Safety. “Wider lane striping, larger sign lettering, and more prominent milepost signage are just a few of the strategies that benefit older road users as well as all motorists and first responders. These efforts help us move toward our vision of zero traffic fatalities.”

Older drivers face a number of challenges on the road. Their higher instance of fatalities is partly attributable to physical fragility that makes surviving a crash less likely than for younger drivers. While they tend to be more cautious and avoid risks on the road, older drivers may face physical challenges that make driving more difficult, including diminished eyesight, reaction time, cognitive ability and muscle dexterity.

“AAA is concerned by the growing number of injuries and deaths involving older drivers in our state, and commends TRIP for bringing light to this issue,” said Mary Lou Gallimore, traffic safety program manager at AAA Ohio Auto Club. “AAA aims to keep mature operators driving safer, longer and has been working with the Ohio Department of Transportation and other safety advocates to keep aging road users safe through education, licensing, alternative transportation, and infrastructure enhancements.”

Older Americans who cease or limit their driving still have options available for maintaining their mobility, though some may come with challenges and drawbacks. Transit systems can benefit older Americans, though robust transit options may not be available in the rural areas where many live, and transit use requires being able to get from home to the pick-up location and from the drop-off to the final destination. Ride sharing services can also help close the mobility gap for older Americans. But, less than one-third of Americans over 65 own a smartphone, which is a prerequisite for using many ridesharing services. Advancements in self-driving and connected vehicle technology may eventually allow older Americans to retain the convenience of private vehicle travel after they are no longer able to drive. However, the timeline for the widespread use of self-driving and connected vehicles is uncertain, and their adoption by older drivers may be slower than that of the general population.

“Freedom of mobility is a cherished, lifelong right. We owe it to the generation that built our nation’s highway system to further enhance the safety and convenience of our transportation system to meet the mobility needs of older Americans,” said Greg Cohen, president and CEO of the American Highway Users Alliance, an organization that advocates on behalf of motorists, truckers, and other drivers. “Making roads safer and supporting the development of emerging transportation options and technology will enhance the mobility of older Americans and the general population.”

The TRIP report offers a set of recommendations to improve the mobility and safety of older Americans. Many of these recommendations are designed to reduce the consequences of driving errors, making roads safer for all Americans. TRIP’s recommendations include the following. An expanded list can be found in the report.

• SAFER ROADS: clearer, brighter and simpler signage with large lettering; brighter street markings, particularly at intersections; widening or adding left-turn lanes and extending the length of merge or exit lanes; adding roundabouts where appropriate; adding rumble strips; and system planning and design to accommodate technology needs of connected and self-driving vehicles.

• SAFER ROAD USERS: promoting education and training programs for older drivers.

• SAFER VEHICLES: implementing self-driving and connected vehicle technology as well as vehicle safety features that address aging-related deficits, improving vehicles to help withstand and avoid crashes.

• IMPROVED CHOICES: ensuring public transit routes, vehicles, facilities and stops are easily accessible and accommodating to older or disabled passengers; and expanding non-traditional approaches tailored to the needs of older adults.

“The rapidly growing ranks of older Americans will far outpace previous generations with their level of mobility and activity. Serving their mobility needs will require a transportation system that includes safer roads, safer vehicles, safer drivers and improved choices,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP. “Additional federal, state and local transportation funds can help not only older drivers, but all drivers.”

Staff Report