PORTSMOUTH — The Ohio State Highway Patrol is reminding drivers to keep their eyes and their focus on the roadway while driving.
Since 2015, there have been 75,411 crashes in Ohio which involved one or more drivers who were distracted by something inside their vehicle. Of these, 227 were fatal crashes which resulted in 248 deaths. Male drivers were involved in 55 percent of these crashes, while females were involved 44 percent of the time. In fatal crashes, males made up 63 percent of distracted drivers. Nearly 34 percent of distracted drivers were between the ages of 16 and 24 years old.
“Distracted driving must become as culturally unacceptable as drunk driving is today. They’re equally preventable and equally dangerous,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “Protect yourself, your family, and others on the road by eliminating all distractions while you drive.”
On October 29, 2018, Ohio passed House Bill 95, a law which broadened what is considered distracted driving and increased the fine if it was a contributing factor to the commission of the driving violation. The Hands Free Ohio bill, which is pending in the Ohio General Assembly, would make driving while handling any electronic device a primary offense in most circumstances.
“When you take your eyes off the road – even for just a few seconds – you are putting your life and the lives of others in danger,” said Colonel Richard S. Fambro, Patrol superintendent. “Driving distracted is unsafe, irresponsible and its consequences can be devastating for families.”
Distracted driving is any non-driving activity with the potential to distract a person 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 mind off driving. Texting while driving is an example that combines all three types of distraction. 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.
As a reminder, Ohio law bans all electronic wireless communication device usage for drivers under 18. Texting while driving is illegal for all drivers and is a secondary offense for adults 18 and above.