Richland County marks Distracted Driving Awareness and Enforcement Week

Staff report

The Richland County Safe Communities Coalition is joining national and local transportation safety advocates in bringing attention to the increasing amount of crashes and resulting injuries and fatalities caused by driver inattention. April is National Distracted Driver Awareness Month. In addition, the dates are set aside for Distracted Driver Enforcement Week, during which cops will be cracking down on this dangerous habit. Although distracted driving is anything that takes your attention off the road, the enforcement is focused mainly on texting while driving.

According to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2014, 3,179 people were killed and an estimated additional 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

“Texting and driving requires motorists to take their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off the task of driving. It creates the proverbial ‘perfect storm’ for a crash, and no one has the right to put another person’s life at risk like that,” said Reed Richmond, Health Educator at Richland Public Health and a Richland County Safe Communities Coalition spokesperson.

From April 9-13, law enforcement personnel will be using a combination of traditional and innovative strategies to crack down on motorists who text while driving. This effort is a part of the national U Drive. U Text. U Pay high-visibility enforcement campaign that combines intense enforcement of anti-texting laws with advertising and media outreach to let people know about the enforcement and convince them to obey the law.

But you don’t have to wait for a police officer to get your attention. There are several things you can do to keep yourself and others safe on the road:

Steps for all drivers:

· Texting while driving is illegal in Ohio.

· Always stay focused and alert when driving.

· Take the pledge: commit to distraction-free driving.

· Speak out if the driver in your car is distracted.

· Encourage your friends and family to designate their cars a “no phone” zone when driving.

Steps for parents of teen drivers:

· Ohio has a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws that include cell phone and texting bans for young drivers.

· Discuss what it means to be a safe driver with your teen and set ground rules for when they are behind the wheel.

· Make a family pledge and have other members in your family commit to distraction-free driving.

· Set a positive example for your teen by putting your cell phone away every time you drive.

Staff report