Ohio Department of Public Safety press release: (COLUBUS, OH) – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and the leaders of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Ohio Highway Traffic Safety Office (OTSO), a division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, are encouraged by new data showing that stronger distracted driving laws are making a positive impact on Ohio roads.
“Ohio’s new law went into effect just over a month ago, and it’s already making a difference,” said Governor DeWine. “I’m glad to see Ohio drivers are making safety a priority and putting their phones away while driving.”
The Cambridge Mobile Telematics report (CMT), the world’s largest provider of telematics services, reports that Ohio drivers are now spending less time on their phones while driving after the law took effect on April 4, 2023. The law makes it illegal in most cases for drivers to use or hold a cell phone or electronic device. The violation is now considered a basic offense, meaning any officer can stop a driver immediately if they witness the violation.
An analysis of CMT data shows a 9.1% reduction in distracted driving in Ohio since April 4, helping to prevent 540 crashes, one fatality, and $13 million in economic damage. In March, Ohio drivers spent an average of 1 minute and 39 seconds interacting with their phones for every hour they drove. From April 4th to May 3rd, Ohio drivers used their phones while driving for 1 minute 30 seconds, down 9 seconds.
“We are pleased that Ohio drivers are taking this new law seriously and are beginning to change their behavior, but we still have work to do,” said Emily Davidson, executive director of the Ohio Office of Highway Traffic Safety. “There is no acceptable level of distracted driving. This behavior is dangerous and puts everyone on the road at risk. The aim is for all drivers to put their phones away the entire time they are behind the wheel.’
“States that pass hands-free laws typically see a reduction in hand-held phone use and accidents. This data shows that we are on the right track to making our Ohio streets and highways safer,” said Michelle May, ODOT Highway Safety Program Manager. “I believe more Ohioans will choose to turn off their phones when they learn about the new law and the dangers of interacting with their screens while driving.”
An information and educational campaign is currently underway to educate drivers about the new law. The phones are not working. This is the Law.” campaign includes TV and radio ads, billboards, social media and a new website at phonesdown.ohio.gov. The campaign will be active during the law’s 6-month grace period, when the Ohio State Highway Patrol and local law enforcement agencies issue warnings as part of a driver education effort. As of May 10, 2023, more than 2,100 campaign materials have been distributed to traffic safety partners across Ohio.
“We applaud the state of Ohio for their proactive approach to combating distracted driving and saving lives on our roads,” said Ryan McMahon, senior vice president of strategy for Cambridge Mobile Telematics. “We have seen time and time again how hands-free legislation raises awareness of the dangers of distraction and helps reduce the use of phones by drivers. We’re inspired by the 9.1% reduction in distraction we’re seeing after a month of implementing the law in Ohio, and we’re proud to offer traffic safety planners the resources and information they need to assess its impact.”
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