Despite widespread reports about the dangers of distracted driving, thousands of drivers continue to cause car accidents in Ohio because they aren’t paying attention to other drivers around them, according to a recent study conducted by AAA in Ohio.
WBNS 10 TV News reported this month on AAA’s findings. The study analyzed accident data for 2015 in Ohio. According to the AAA study, 13,000 distracted drivers in Ohio crashed into other vehicles last year. Those drivers caused 39 fatal car accidents, which resulted in 43 deaths. Overall, 1,110 people died in motor vehicle accidents in Ohio last year, according to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Locally, distracted driving was cited as the cause of several, serious car accidents recently. Just this month, two Cuyahoga County, Ohio high school students sustained serious injuries in a rollover car accident involving a 17-year-old driver who was texting while driving, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
By the Numbers: Distracted Driving in Ohio
- 13,000 – Number of accidents caused by distracted drivers in Ohio in 2015
- 96 percent – Ohioans polled who object to texting while driving
- 30 percent – Ohioans polled who admitted to texting while driving
- 43 – Number of people killed in distracted driving accidents in Ohio in 2015
- 46 – Number of states nationwide that ban texting while driving
Why is distracted driving still a serious problem in Ohio?
Awareness about the dangers of distracted driving has been well publicized in Ohio and across the country. That’s why the state decided to ban texting while driving beginning in August 2012, as reported in the Columbus Dispatch.
Many Ohio drivers also agree that texting while driving is “unacceptable,” according to the WBNS 10 TV News article about the recent AAA study. Specifically, among 400 Ohio drivers polled by AAA, 96 percent said drivers should not text while driving. However, the same study found that 30 percent of respondents admitted to texting while driving.
Such figures indicate that some drivers say one thing, but do another. Or as AAA spokeswoman Kimberly Schwind said in an interview with WBNS 10 TV News, “many drivers want you to do as they say and not as they do.”
What’s the solution to eliminating distracted driving in Ohio?
Schwind and the AAA advocate for tougher laws and stronger enforcement. Currently, the penalty for texting while driving in Ohio is a fine of up to $150 for drivers over 18 years old, according to Fox 19 News. For drivers under 18 years old, the penalty for reading, sending or writing a text while driving is a fine of up to $150 and a 6-month driver’s license suspension.
In Ohio, texting while driving is a primary offense for drivers under 18 but a secondary offense for drivers over 18, notes ABC 5 Cleveland News. That means law enforcement officials must have another reason besides texting while driving to pull over a driver over 18 years old in Ohio.
That needs to change. Law enforcement officials in Ohio need to be able to stop adults who are texting while driving. Because when people text and drive, they don’t just put themselves at risk. They put everyone’s lives on the road in danger.