PORTSMOUTH-This April, the Portsmouth Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol is using National Distracted Driving Awareness Month to remind drivers to keep their eyes and their focus on the roadway while driving.
During the last five years, 226 people lost their lives as a result of distracted driving. During this same timeframe, distracted driving led to 64,108 crashes in Ohio. Statistics show that male drivers accounted for 55 percent of all distracted driving crashes and 64 percent of the related fatal crashes. Nearly one in three distracted drivers were between the ages of 15 and 24 years old. Because drivers are reluctant to admit to distracted driving, the actual number of distracted driving crashes, injuries and deaths are believed to be significantly higher.
“Last year, deaths on Ohio’s roads were at their highest since 2002, and we know that distracted driving is a big factor behind this increase,” said Governor Mike De Wine. “Distracted driving crashes are preventable. We are asking all drivers to make the choice to keep their attention on the roads so that all Ohio travelers can get home to their 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 results in 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.
“When you take your eyes off the road, for just one second-you’re putting the lives of everyone at risk,” said Lieutenant Jake Schuldt, Portsmouth Post commander. “Keep your focus on the road. Everything else can wait.”
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. 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.