Columbus Car Crashes by the Numbers: How Many, Which Kinds, and When They Happen
People have been writing about traffic accidents since the dawn of the motor vehicle. And yet, all these years later, the news hasn’t gotten any better.
Accidents happen every day. Many of them are serious. Some of them are fatal.
Indeed, right here in Columbus, innocent people suffer harm in car crashes with striking frequency. The statistics paint quite a picture.
Driving around our city, it’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of comfort. After all, most of your trips on the road don’t involve a collision.
It is unsettling, then, to suddenly realize that quite a few accidents happen right here in the place you call home, on the same streets you travel every day.
Hauntingly, the statistics impress upon us a sobering reality: Many of our community members have been seriously injured and even lost their lives making the same commutes we all make on a regular basis.
How We Access the Car Accident Statistics for Columbus, OH (And How You Can, Too)
Statistics are vital for understanding the reality of a situation. Fortunately, the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) maintains extensive data about the auto accidents in our state and, unlike some other jurisdictions, makes those readily accessible online.
The OSHP Crash Dashboard breaks data down by county, not by city. As such, the information we have gathered here focuses more on the Columbus metropolitan area rather than crash data for Columbus itself. In addition, although parts of Columbus extend into Delaware and Fairfield counties, we have chosen to focus on Franklin County because the majority of the city is located in Franklin County.
Finally, unless otherwise specified, the statistics are for calendar year 2021. This allows us to present the most recent and complete data concerning car accidents in and around Columbus.
Want to learn more about the prevalence of car accidents in the community? Visit the OSHP Statistics webpage and click on “OSTATS.” You can adjust the county and dates to choose the data you’d like to see.
Columbus Traffic Accident Stats: Crashes, Fatalities, and Property Damage
Below, we look at each and every accident that resulted in property damage, injury, or death in Columbus (Franklin County) during 2021:
|Month in 2021||Number of Columbus Auto Accidents with a Fatality||Number of Columbus Auto Accident Injuries||Number of Columbus Auto Accidents with Property Damage||TOTALS|
Statistics for car accidents involving injuries combine three categories of data collected by the OSHP: suspected serious injury, suspected minor injury, and possible injury. These categories demonstrate the challenge law enforcement faces in accurately accounting for the number of people injured in crashes; short of following each victim to the hospital, the police are often unable to establish for certain if one or more people were injured in the collision.
What Is the Most Dangerous Day of the Week for Driving in Columbus?
It’s a question worth asking. Traffic experts recommend avoiding the roads as much as possible during days, hours, and seasons that are associated with higher traffic accident rates.
In Columbus and Franklin County in 2021, the day of the week motorists were most likely to get into an accident was Friday. A total of 3,746 car accidents occurred on Fridays, with 20 fatal crashes and 1,342 resulting in some degree of injury. However, the deadliest day of the week for car accidents was Saturday. Out of 3,168 accidents, a total of 22 people were killed in crashes on a Saturday (1,118 collisions on Saturdays resulted in injury).
Two days account for the next highest number of car accident deaths. Collisions on Sunday and Thursday each resulted in 18 fatal collisions. In spite of this, Sunday had the lowest number of crashes with injuries (979) and the lowest rate of accidents overall (2,801). Thursday, meanwhile, was on the high side, with a total of 3,326 accidents and 1,169 resulting in injury.
Car accidents in 2021 were at their lowest early in the week. Mondays saw a total of 2,962 crashes, 15 involving fatalities and 1,058 involving injuries. Tuesdays had a total of 3,195 accidents (13 fatal and 1,124 with injuries). Finally, a total of 3,354 accidents happened on Wednesdays, 11 resulting in fatalities and 1,256 leading to injuries.
The moral of the story here: exercise caution daily. Use common sense, and be especially careful during rush hour, in low visibility, and during high-traffic seasons (such as the summer months and the holiday shopping rush).
What Is the Most Dangerous Time to Drive in Columbus?
Predictably, evening rush hour represented the most dangerous time for motorists to be on the road in 2021. In Franklin County last year, nearly 30% of crashes occurred in the period from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. A further 13.1% of crashes happened from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., representing a kind of post-rush hour “danger zone” for drivers.
Accidents were less common during morning rush hour. However, the risk of an accident increased significantly starting at 7 a.m. and continued to go up throughout the day.
The Top 18 Most Common Causes of Columbus Car Accidents
The Ohio State Highway Patrol categorizes car accidents according to 18 different crash variables. These variables account for some of the most common causes of car accidents in and around Columbus.
Here is a look at the issues that contributed to the most car accidents in Columbus and Franklin County as a whole in 2021:
- Youth-related (i.e., the accident involved a driver between the ages of 15 and 24): 7,051 crashes
- Unbelt-related (i.e., one or more occupants were not wearing seat belts): 6,992 crashes
- Mature-related (i.e., collision involved a driver over the age of 55): 5,924 crashes
- Failure to yield: 3,550 crashes
- Teen-related (i.e., the accident involved a driver between the ages of 15 and 19): 2,709 crashes
- Speed-related: 2,549 crashes
- Ran red light or stop sign: 1,507 crashes
- OVI-related (i.e., crash involving an individual suspected of operating a vehicle impaired): 1,443 crashes
- Commercial vehicle-related: 1,326 crashes
- Alcohol-related: 1,186 crashes
- Distracted driving-related: 836 crashes
- Drug-related: 438 crashes
- Pedestrian-related: 436 crashes
- Motorcycle-related: 349 crashes
- Work zone-related: 311 crashes
- Bicycle-related: 178 crashes
- School bus-related: 149 crashes
- Deer-related: 115 crashes
In looking at these numbers, it’s important to realize that police officers might record only one “probable cause of crash,” inferring the cause from the contributing circumstances. In reality, the accident may be the result of negligent driving behaviors acting in concert. This explains the overlap in some of the OSHP variables, such as the separate categories for youth-related and teen-related accidents and multiple variables for crashes related to OVI, alcohol, and drugs.
For example, a driver who fails to yield may also be speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, and texting while driving all at the same time. The officer may choose to record only one of these probable causes. Alternatively, the officer may otherwise be unaware of the additional contributing circumstances.
Indeed, distracted driving is almost certainly underrepresented in these numbers. The national texting-and-driving epidemic is on widespread display in Columbus, as you have probably seen for yourself.
This much is clear: The overwhelming majority of Columbus auto accidents are caused by preventable driver error. This fact is consistent with national and global statistics as well. Ultimately, the road would be a much safer place if only everyone would be careful.
What Are the Most Dangerous Roads In and Around Columbus?
Unsurprisingly, state, U.S., and interstate highways account for the majority of accidents in Columbus and Franklin County. The top 10 roads with the highest rate of crashes in 2021 were:
- Interstate 270: 1,314 crashes
- U.S. 40: 1,164 crashes
- U.S. 23: 859 crashes
- Interstate 71: 822 crashes
- U.S. 33: 730 crashes
- Interstate 70: 691 crashes
- State Route 3: 624 crashes
- State Route 317: 544 crashes
- U.S. 62: 500 crashes
- State Route 161: 431 crashes
In total, 47 of the crashes on these 10 roads alone resulted in fatalities. These accidents make up approximately 40% of the total fatal collisions in Franklin County in 2021.
What About Car Accidents in 2022 So Far?
According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, 93 people have died in Ohio traffic accidents thus far in 2022. This marks a decrease of nearly 28% from the same time period last year, when the OSHP had already recorded 129 traffic fatalities.
Though these numbers are encouraging, it is important for drivers in Columbus, Franklin County, and Ohio as a whole to remain vigilant. A moment’s carelessness can lead to a collision with tragic consequences.
Don’t Become a Statistic: 20 Ways to Avoid Car Accidents in Columbus
It would be comforting, perhaps, to assume that the victims in these crashes were at fault, that by being more careful than they were we can avoid the same harm.
Certainly, we would all be wise to drive as cautiously as possible. But the truth is that most auto accidents are caused by an individual driver’s negligence. All of the other people injured or killed in the collision, unfortunately, tend to be innocent victims caught up in someone else’s negligence, often in the blink of an eye.
Fortunately, there are steps we can all take to reduce the potential for a crash:
- Always wear a seat belt any time you are driving or riding in a vehicle
- Keep your eyes on the road and your hands at 10 and 2 on the wheel; situational awareness is key, and these simple steps can help you identify accident risks and take action to avoid them
- Yield when other drivers have the right of way at stop signs, when merging into traffic, etc.
- Obey the speed limit
- Reduce your speed when conditions are unfavorable (such as inclement weather, driving at night, etc.)
- If a traffic light turns red, gradually come to a complete stop; don’t try to “beat the yellow”
- Come to a complete stop at stop signs and look left, right, and left again before proceeding
- Keep a safe distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you; leave one car length for every 10 mph you travel
- Check your blind spots, signal, and allow enough time and space before changing lanes or merging
- Don’t drink and drive; even if you are below the legal limit, a small amount of alcohol can impair your ability to drive safely
- Resist the temptation to text and drive; ideally you should silence your phone or use an app to block incoming texts while you are on the road
- Don’t give in to other distractions, such as talking on the phone, eating, drinking, applying makeup, etc.
- Keep an eye out for pedestrians at all times, not just at marked crosswalks
- Be respectful of bicyclists; bikes are bound by the same rules of the road as motor vehicles
- Exercise extra caution around large trucks and motorcycles; truck drivers are less likely to see your vehicle, while you are less likely to see a motorcycle
- Obey all signs to reduce speed, yield, etc. when entering and driving through a work zone
- Stop and wait if you are behind a school bus or traveling in the opposite direction from a school bus on a two-lane road that stops to pick up or drop off children
- Maintain your vehicle in accordance with the recommended service schedule
- Pay attention if your vehicle is subject to a recall; read the recall notice carefully and take the steps recommended by the manufacturer as soon as possible
- Watch for deer and other wildlife trying to cross the road; animals are increasingly moving into populated urban areas, making deer strikes and similar accidents more common in cities
This is all simple advice, the kind of information provided in driver’s ed. However, those early lessons are worth repeating if it means cutting down on mistakes behind the wheel and reducing the number of car accidents in the Columbus community.
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