DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – April is Distracted driving awareness month.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol says 51 people lost their lives because of distracted driving in 2018.
Distracted driving is more than just texting and driving, although that is one major example, it could be anything like fiddling with the radio.
And this month, OSP says they have extra funding for more man hours, and they are on the lookout for those drivers.
In 2018, Ohio reported 13,727 crashes involving distracted driving, of those 47 were fatal.
This month, Lt. Geoffrey Freeman of Ohio State Highway Patrol says to lower that number they are focusing on education and enforcement.
Lt. Geoffrey Freeman of the Dayton Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said, “We have overtime that’s federally funded that we will have extra troopers working the roads specifically targeting and looking for distracted driving violations.”
Freeman says oftentimes it’s younger drivers who take their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel.
He says he has conversations with his 16-year-old daughter about the dangers, and recommends other parents do the same.
“If your school books slide on the floor, just leave them there. If you feel the need to pick them up, you need to pull off the road, stop the car, never, never, never take your eyes off the road,” said Freeman.
Last October, the state law designating what qualified as distracted driving was expanded as well as making it a secondary offense.
Freeman said, “If you drive over the painted lines on the roadway, that’s a marked lanes violation. if there’s a distraction involved while doing that, then that’s an increased penalty.”
Freeman says since that law took effect, troopers have handed out 7,930 tickets for distracted driving as a secondary offense and that does not include local police officers or sheriff’s deputies.