The number of cars on the road continues to increase as things return to normal. No group is more aware of the growing traffic numbers than Ohio Troopers, who are part of the new 6-State Trooper Project collaboration. The coordinated effort in late March and early April focused on high visibility enforcement and security services for highway safety, criminal patrol and intelligence sharing. Other states involved are Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
Enforcement gets results
The Ohio State Highway Patrol issued 557 citations for distracted driving from April 5-12 in Ohio. Of course, this problem is not unique to the six states involved in the project – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 1.6 million collisions annually in the United States are caused by people texting on their devices. Along with texting, distracted driving is also defined in the state as answering a phone call (even when pulling over to do it), eating or drinking in the vehicle, adjusting climate controls, navigation or the entertainment system.
Troopers say they were looking for three forms of distracted driving:
- Eyes off the road
- Hands off the wheel
- Mind-off driving
This behavior is particularly problematic when drivers are on highways and tollways. A key reason for this is that drivers take an average of 4.6 seconds to read a text. During this time when they are not watching the road, the vehicle going 55 mph travels the length of four football fields.
Hold them accountable
Along the thousands of crashes cause each year by distracted driving, Ohio has seen a total of 212 road fatalities caused by distracted driving. There have been many more instances where this negligent driving behavior severely injures victims. Nonetheless, despite distracted driving citations starting at $100, people still do it. Victims and their families can also hold them accountable by filing a civil lawsuit.