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  • Writer's pictureJoe Lyons

Ohio State Highway Patrol reminds motorists toeliminate distractions while behind the wheel


April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month


Ashland County – April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the Ohio State Highway Patrol is urging motorists to commit to eliminating distractions while behind the wheel.

 

Ohio’s distracted driving law became a primary offense last April after Governor Mike DeWine signed SB 288. When the law took effect, motorists were given a six-month grace period before the law became enforceable. During that time, officers stopped motorists for illegally using an electronic device, educated them on the new law and warned them for the violation. The new law became enforceable in October and during the final three months of last year, troopers issued 3,575 citations for distracted driving violations. This was a 119% increase from the same time period in 2022.

 

Distracted driving was a factor in 55,857 Ohio crashes from 2019 through 2023. Of these crashes, 169 were fatal, resulting in 185 deaths. In addition, more than 29,000 people were injured in distracted driving-related crashes.

 

The distracted driving law change has made a clear and positive impact on the safety of Ohio roadways. In 2023, there were 28 distracted driving-related fatal crashes across the state. This was the fewest distracted driving-related deaths over the last five years.

 

“Ohio’s strengthened law is saving lives by changing the culture around distracted driving, but we still need more drivers to commit to focusing on the road,” said Governor DeWine. “National Distracted Driving Awareness Month is a great reminder for drivers to put their phones down and limit in-car distractions.”

 

Distracted driving is any non-driving activity with the potential to take the driver’s focus from the primary task of driving, and increase the risk of crashing. Distractions can be visual, taking eyes off of the road; manual, taking hands off the wheel; or cognitive, taking the driver’s mind off driving. Texting while driving is an example of all three types of distractions at once. Sending or receiving a text message takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field when traveling at 55 mph.

 

“In 2024, distracted driving enforcement will continue to be a high priority,” said Colonel Charles A. Jones, Patrol superintendent. “We must continue to educate the public on the dangers and consequences of distracted driving.”

 

The Patrol reminds you to safely call #677 when you see unsafe driving or if you need assistance on Ohio roadways.

 

Distracted driving information is available here and on the Patrol’s Ohio Statistics and Analytics for Traffic Safety (OSTATS) Crash Dashboard. Also, PhonesDown.Ohio.gov is a great resource for motorists.

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