MOUNT GILEAD — April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the Mount Gilead Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol is reminding drivers to keep their eyes and their focus on the roadway while driving.
Over the last five years, 212 people lost their lives as a result of distracted driving. During this same timeframe, distracted driving led to 66,181 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 16 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, a news release says.
“Distracted driving must become as culturally unacceptable as impaired driving is today. They’re equally avoidable and equally dangerous,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “Allowing something to take your focus off the roadway is irresponsible and the consequences can be troubling for Ohio families.”
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.
“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,” Lt. G. Grewal, Commander of the Mount Gilead Post said. “There is nothing more important than the safety of yourself, your passengers and other motorists; everything else can wait.”
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.
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.