June 26 • 02:56 PM

Roads a bit safer in '17

Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning releases report

Cristina Medrano, 51 years-old, of Almont, died in June 2017 in a single-vehicle accident on Graham Rd. in Imlay Twp. A total of 11 people died in accidents in Lapeer County last year.

October 03, 2018
TRI-CITY AREA — Across the state, fewer people were injured or killed in traffic accidents in 2017, despite the fact that there were more vehicles on the road and that Michigan residents traveled more miles.

According to the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning's Michigan Traffic Crash Facts report for 2017, the state's motor vehicle registrations increased by 1.2 percent and there were 0.3 percent more licensed drivers on the roads. Overall, residents traveled 2.6 percent more miles last year too.

Statewide, the number of traffic accident deaths decreased by 3.4 percent and the number of reported crashes declined by 0.9 percent.

Twenty-seventeen was also a somewhat safer year for traveling in both Lapeer and St. Clair counties.

Lapeer County had fewer accidents last year (2,875) compared to 2016 (3,018) but the number of fatalities–11–was a slight increase over the five-year average.

St. Clair County also had fewer accidents (3,705) compared to 2016 (3,886) and the number of fatalities also declined from 20 to 14.

But the news wasn't as good when it comes to impaired driving. In 2017 Lapeer County realized the highest number of crashes involving drugs (39) and the highest number of drug-related fatal crashes (5) in the last five years.

Last year, there were 100 alcohol-related crashes in Lapeer County but only three of those incidents resulted in fatalities–a number unchanged from 2016. Of those drivers who had been drinking and had their blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) measured, a majority were more than two times over the legal limit. According to the report, 46.2 percent of those over the legal limit (0.08 grams per deciliter) had a BAC at or above 0.17.

Last year, St. Clair County recorded 164 alcohol-involved crashes with just two resulting in fatalities–the lowest number recorded in the last five years. The number of fatalities involving drivers who had been drinking has decreased every year in that five-year time period from the seven deaths reported in 2013.

Although those statistics are positive, many drunk drivers in St. Clair County, like their neighbors to the west, were well above the legal limit. Of the 56 drivers who had blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) that measured above the legal limit, 21 had a BAC at or above 0.17.

Similarly, St. Clair County saw fewer drug-related crashes in 2017 and didn't record any fatal accidents that could be attributed to drugs–a significant decrease from 2013 when one-quarter of its fatal accidents were drug-related–but 2017 resulted in the highest number of serious injury accidents (14) involving drugs.

Collectively, the number of crashes involving alcohol or drugs increased last year in Lapeer County to stand at 120 but is still less than the 143 crashes recorded in 2013. In St. Clair County, the number of impaired driving accidents remained unchanged from 2016.

Other facts from the 2017 report indicate:

•the most deer-involved crashes occurred between 6-9 a.m. and 6-9 p.m. in both Lapeer and St. Clair counties. One of those accidents resulted in a Lapeer County fatality last year.

•in the Tri-City area, Lapeer County's Attica and Almont townships had the most motor vehicle crashes with 176 and 153 respectively. Imlay Township recorded two fatalities in 2017, the highest number countywide, along with Marathon Twp.

On the western edge of St. Clair County, Berlin and Mussey townships saw the most accidents with 81 and 57, respectively. Berlin recorded six alcohol-involved crashes.

•St. Clair County saw the highest number of vehicle crashes in 2017 in December and saw the most fatalities (3) in the month of November.

Lapeer County had the most accidents in October of 2017 with the highest number of fatalities (2) in June, October and December.

Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she and her family reside in the Capac area where she enjoys gardening and reading.
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