April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month - Be Safe

In an effort to make our roads safer, the Greene County Safe Communities Coalition, part of Greene County Public Health, announced today that it has joined the “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All” campaign to stop distracted driving.  Greene County Safe Communities has pledged its support to help spread the message that distracted drivers are not only a danger to themselves, but everyone else on the road.

“We all know that talking on our cell phones while driving is distracting, but that doesn’t stop most people from continuing to do it,” said Loressa Gonyer, Coordinator for the Safe Communities Coalition at Greene County Public Health. “This effort is intended to educate our community about the dangers of cell phone use and other distractions while driving. We hope that once people see the statistics and realize the danger involved, they will change their driving habits to help protect themselves, their families, and others on the road.” 

The Ohio State Patrol reports that in 2022 in Ohio, there were 10,280 distracted driving crashes, nine of them fatal crashes, with 37% of drivers aged 15-24. For 2023 year to date, there have been 1,713 distracted driving crashes with 39% of drivers in the age range of 15-24. Since 2018 through year to date, there have been 41,175 distracted driving violations reported. In Greene County, the routes with the highest number of crashes are US35 (15), I-675 (11), SR444 (6), and US42 (5).

While anything that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, or mind off the task of driving is a hazard, there is heightened concern about the risks of texting while driving because it combines all three types of distraction – visual, manual, and cognitive.

The national distracted driving effort focuses on ways to change the behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness, and education – the same activities that have curbed drunk driving and increased seat belt use.

“Every driver in Greene County has a role in this effort,” said Gonyer. “However, we especially want to reach out to parents with teen drivers because we know that statistically, the under-20 age group had the highest proportion of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes.” Greene County’s goal with this campaign is simple – save lives by getting drivers to remember that “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All.”

Be reminded that Ohio’s Distracted Driving law takes effect in April. The bill designates the use of cell phones and other electronic communications devices while driving as a primary traffic offense for all drivers and allows law enforcement to immediately pull over a distracted driver upon witnessing a violation. It prohibits drivers from “using, holding, or physically supporting” a cellphone, with some
exceptions, such as if they are stopped at a red light, using a speakerphone function without holding the phone, or holding a phone to their ears for a call but not using texting or typing functions.

The bill goes into effect on April 4. Starting then, law enforcement will issue warnings to drivers found violating the law for the first six months. 

After this six-month grace period, law enforcement will have the authority to issue citations. Penalties include a fine of up to $150 for a driver's first offense and two points on their license unless a distracted driving safety course is completed. Increased penalties can occur if the driver is a repeat offender.

For more information about distracted driving, please visit www.distraction.gov, call Greene County Public Health at 937-374-5600, or visit www.gcph.info

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