‘Keep focus on the road;’ Ohioans getting ready for holiday travel under new distracted driving law

MONTGOMERY COUNTY — Ohio drivers are getting ready for the first holiday travel season under Ohio’s new distracted driving law.

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It has been a little more than six weeks since law enforcement started issuing tickets to distracted drivers.

News Center 7 wanted to know how many violations and crashes the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) has seen since the law took effect last month.

Taylor Robertson reported on this story during News Center 7′s Daybreak on Monday morning.

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As of November 12, there have been 446 crashes in Montgomery County due to people not paying attention at the wheel this year alone, according to OSHP.

Two people have died in those wrecks.

Robertson investigated the numbers and found that Greene County has 122 distracted driving crashes and Clark County has the third highest at 103.

>> Previous Coverage: New distracted driving law goes into effect today; what local authorities what you to know

Miami and Mercer Counties each had one deadly crash that occurred this year, OSHP said.

Judy Converse, Public Information Officer with the Ohio Traffic Safety Office, told Robertson that they do know that drivers are aware of the new distracted driving law, according to their research.

“We did a survey that shows 90% of Ohio drivers roughly they’re aware of the law, they know that it’s changed, and we did see a lot of that today where there were people with phones,” said Converse. “I mean, we do know we’re in a marked cruiser so it’s like oh real quick you don’t want to get caught.”

She said it’s still happening everywhere, including local roads, highways, and she saw that on a ride along with a state trooper on Friday.

Three people were pulled over for not paying attention within a couple of hours.

>>PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Phones down: Enforcement of Ohio’s distracted driving law begins Oct. 5

Converse also told Robertson that she wanted to see what troopers were seeing and she was surprised at how easy it was to spot the distracted drivers.

She explained that they were so distracted they didn’t even see the giant-marked OSHP vehicle right behind them.

Converse recommends that people invest in a phone mount and put their phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ when driving so they are not even aware of the notifications they are getting until they purposely check them.

>>ORIGINAL COVERAGE: DeWine signs bill restricting Ohioans from using phones while driving

She also tells Robertson that drivers should get their playlist ready and address in their GPS before leaving. That way, once they are driving, they are fully focused on the road.

“We want the absolute best behavior,” said Converse. “What we want to see is two hands on the wheel, two eyes on the road, keep focus on the road, keep your mind on the road as well.”

She also said to Robertson that distracted driving goes further than just being on your phone.

Converse says don’t put on makeup or eat breakfast in one hand with your coffee in the other.

They want your hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and mind on driving.

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