The Ohio State Highway PatrolOhio Joins State Troopers In Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, And West Virginia In Implementing A Multi-State Highway Project That Focuses On Distracted Driving.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol hopes to reduce Ohio car accidents involving distracted drivers and help motorists maintain their focus on Ohio roadways this week. The Ohio State Highway Patrol is teaming up with troopers in five other states to enforce distracted driving laws. The weeklong project, which began Sunday, July 17 and runs through Saturday, July 23, is an effort to reduce Ohio distracted driving accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 2,910 fatal crashes that were reported to involve distracted drivers. The NHTSA further reported that the number of distracted drivers rose 11% in 2015. The increase resulted in 13,261 Ohio distracted driving accidents. The distracted driving accidents involved 6,916 injuries with 43 fatalities.
The Ohio state patrol is participating in the 6-State Trooper Project. In addition to Ohio, the distracted driving program involves the Indiana State Police, Kentucky State Police, Michigan State Police, Pennsylvania State Police and West Virginia State Police. According to Ohio highway patrol officials, the high visibility, multi-state law enforcement partnership combines and coordinates law enforcement and security services in the areas of highway safety, criminal patrol and intelligence sharing.
Ohio Patrol Superintendent Paul A. Pride urges motorists to keep their hands on the wheel and concentrate on driving or risk being stopped not only in Ohio, but by troopers in five other states. “Distracted driving is reckless behavior that is taken seriously by the troopers of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, as well as law enforcement of our neighboring states,” Superintendent Pride said in a press release regarding the project.
Distracted driving is described as anything that takes motorists’ eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and minds off of driving. Text messages and talking on the phone are common distracted driving activities followed by eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading maps, watching a video, adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player or a navigational device.
[cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/, CDC, March 7, 2016]
The U.S. Department Of Transportation calls distracted driving a “dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways.” In 2014 alone, 3,129 people were killed in distracted driving crashes nationwide. In Ohio, distracted driving crashes made up 6% of all crashes reported in 2014. There were 17,827 distracted driving crashes reported that included 44 fatal and 5,958 injury crashes, according to Ohio state patrol statistics.
In Ohio, texting while driving is a secondary offense for all drivers. This means police cannot stop drivers solely for texting but for a primary offense such as speeding. However, the law bans texting while driving for drivers under 18, who are also forbidden to use all electronic wireless communication devices while driving. To strengthen existing Ohio distracted driving laws for adults, Ohio House Bill 88 was introduced earlier this year to make texting while driving a primary offense. The proposed legislation would also ban the use of wireless devices in construction zones and in school zones where children are present. The fines for violating distracted driving laws would also increase under House Bill 86. The first distracted driving offense would cost motorists a $100 fine and the cost would rise to $300 for subsequent offenses. The proposed measure also calls for fines to double if a fatality results from a distracted driving offense.