COLUMBUS — Since 2016, there have been over 70,000 motor vehicle crashes associated with distracted driving, and over 2,000 of those leading to serious injuries or deaths, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
In an effort to increase transparency of data and emphasize the importance of safety for Ohio drivers, the OSHP has established the Distracted Driving Dashboard, which is a visualization of crash data that is part of an ongoing series by the Ohio Statistics and Analytics for Traffic Safety.
“Last year was the deadliest year on Ohio’s roads in more than a decade, and distracted driving most certainly played a role. This new dashboard will help keep the public informed about this serious public safety issue,” said Gov. Mike DeWine in a statement.
The Distracted Driving Dashboard is comprehensive and includes interactive ways for Ohioans to learn more about how distracted driving is statistically impacting specific communities and the state at large, as well as information on how troopers continue to enforce violations in an effort to discourage any activity that takes away from focusing on the road ahead.
Distracted driving expands further than being on a cell phone while operating a vehicle. Any activity that impacts the ability of the driver or would reasonably impact their ability is considered to be a distraction, according to state police.
“We want to educate the public and make sure there is a public awareness of activities that happen on the road,” said Lt. Chris Chesar, commander of the Marietta Post of the OSHP. “Maybe we can make them think a bit more about their behaviors.”
According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, distracted driving levels tend to increase in the state between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., which are considered after-work rush hours.
As of June 29, there had been 7,104 distracted driving violations in 2021. There were 3,939 violations in the entirety of 2020, according to state statistics.
“This year we are definitely seeing more distracted driving violations due to many things, including the pandemic (last year that may have contributed to lower rates),” said State Trooper and Regional Public Information Officer for Southeastern Ohio Brice Nihiser. “Don’t drive distracted so we can save lives.”
The OSHP provides additional dashboards for the public to have a greater awareness of their travel habits and expectations, such as the Crash Dashboard, the OVI Dashboard and the Work Zone Dashboard. All dashboards are available at www.statepatrol.ohio.gov
If you witness dangerous and distracted driving, the OSHP urges you to dial #677 to notify the nearest post.
Jenna Pierson may be reached at [email protected]