COLUMBUS — In Ohio, there were 13,485 distracted-related crashes with 41 deaths in 2019, according to data from the Ohio State Highway Patrol. A recent news release from Ohio AAA urges all drivers to pay attention and focus on the road during this National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and all year long.
“Focused drivers save lives,” said Kellie O’Riordan, traffic safety program manager for AAA Ohio Auto Club. “There is no text message worth reading or sending when injuring or killing someone is the potential cost.”
Nationwide, nearly 3,000 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, contributing to the 36,560 lives lost to crashes on U.S. roadways in 2018. Distractions include more than texting. Anything that diverts attention from driving – eating and drinking, adjusting the navigation, picking your next podcast, talking to other passengers, or talking or texting on the phone—can result in a fatal injury.
Despite what some drivers may think, hands-free is not risk-free. Even with your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, you are not safe unless your mind is focused on driving. As a reminder, looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash.
Don’t drive intoxicated or intexticated:
AAA’s ongoing “Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated” campaign aims to make distracted driving socially unacceptable, much like drinking and driving. It was launched in Ohio and several other states last year as AAA continues its longstanding efforts to improve road, vehicle and driver safety.
“We recognize that changing attitudes and behaviors when it comes to distracted driving will take time and a true commitment from all road users,” O’Riordan added.
Legislation to improve safety:
AAA is also supportive of a new bill that will strengthen Ohio’s laws regarding the use of wireless devices, including smartphones, while driving. S.B. 285, the “Hands-Free Ohio” bill, sponsored by Senators Sean O’Brien and Stephanie Kunze, will make driving while handling any electronic wireless device a primary offense. Currently, using a wireless device to write, send, or read a text-based communication while driving is a secondary offense for adult drivers.
Violating Ohio’s distracted driving laws can be costly. Know before you go.
- Drivers may not use a handheld electronic wireless communications device while driving (a secondary offense).
- Temporary instruction permit holders under age 18 and probationary license holders are prohibited from using any type of wireless device while driving (a primary offense).
Advice to avoid distractions while driving:
Prepare for your drive. Set vehicle systems like GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before hitting the road. Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time. And please, finish dressing and personal grooming at home – before you get on the road.
Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated. The consequences of alcohol-impaired driving and texting while driving could be the same: Put aside electronic distractions and never use text messaging, email, video games or internet functions, including those built into the vehicle, while driving. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate call/text blocking features.
Stay focused. Do not let anything divert your attention. Be sure to actively scan the road, use your mirrors, and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists. If you have passengers, enlist their help as a “designated texter.” Ask them to answer your calls, respond to texts and program the navigation.
Take the pledge not to drive distracted by visiting AAA.com/dontdrivedistracted.