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Ohio Launches First Distracted Driving Safety Corridor

As motorists drive along a 17-mile strip of roadway in Trumbull and Mahoning counties, they may notice more troopers on the interstate than usual. This is in part due to the new Distracted Driving Safety Corridor that launched in April as part of Distracted Driving Safety Awareness month.

The distracted driving corridor was made possible due to the partnership between the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) as an initiative to reduce distracted driving crashes, injuries and fatalities. The corridor runs along Interstate 76 and Interstate 80, spanning from Newton Falls Road in Mahoning County to West Liberty Street in Trumbull County. Statistics show that this area is one of Ohio’s busiest stretches of interstate highway and has a high rate of crashes involving distracted driving.

“Distracted driving crashes are totally preventable crashes. Distracted driving is a choice that people make,” said ODOT District Deputy Director John Picuri. “Last year there wear nearly 14,000 crashes related to distracted driving in Ohio.”

The corridor is adorned with signs that notify motorists as they are entering and leaving the corridor. Several other signs bring attention to the motorists that read “How Important Is That Text?” and “Don’t Text And Drive.” An electronic sign lights up with the number of days since the last serious crash.

The Warren and Canfield Patrol posts are using federal grant dollars to allow more enforcement by troopers looking for violations such as speeding, lane violations and following too close that may be attributed to distracted driving. The goal is to reduce crashes and dangerous driving behaviors that will result in saving more lives.

“We know that distracted driving is an increasing problem,” said Ohio Department of Public Safety Director John Born. “Last year we saw a large increase in the number of distracted driving fatal crashes. In fact, the number of fatal crashes in Ohio from reported distracted driving doubled from 2016 to 2017.”

Since 2013, there have been almost 65,000 crashes caused by distracted drivers in Ohio. As a result of these crashes, there were 189 deaths and 22,428 serious injuries. From Jan. 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2018, the Patrol handed out 2,735 distracted driving violations in Trumbull and Mahoning counties. In that same time period, there were 1,245 distracted driving crashes resulting in three fatalities and nearly 450 injuries.

“Distracted driving continues to be a component in crashes we investigate and continues to rise,” said Lieutenant Jerad Sutton of the Patrol’s Canfield Post. “There are so many things that can distract you from the primary focus of driving.”

Educating motorists on distracted driving and its consequences will be a key element in the success of the corridor. During traffic stops, motorists can expect a pamphlet on distracted driving to be given to them by a trooper titled “If You Think You’re a Multitasker, You’re Wrong.” A distracted driving simulator donated by ODOT to the Safe Communities will be available for the public to utilize during an event. The simulator gives the public an opportunity to experience what it’s like to drive distracted. Motorists should keep their focus on the road, not just in the corridor, but wherever they travel to help make our roadways a safer place.

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