One month of Ohio’s distracted driving law, OSHP gives progress update

Law enforcement officials across Ohio are optimistic about how distracted driving laws could help people stay safe on the road.
Published: May. 1, 2023 at 6:44 PM EDT
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OHIO (WSAZ) - This week marks one month since Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed the bill strengthening distracted driving laws in the Buckeye State.

Law enforcement officials across Ohio are optimistic about how this could help people stay safe on the road.

‘State law: Phones down while driving’ is a message you’ll see on many road signs throughout Ohio. It’s a message law enforcement officials have always been passionate about, but as of one month ago, being on your phone while behind the wheel is now a primary violation.

“If we see you, on your phone texting, we can pull you over for that,” said Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Derek Malone. He says until October, they’re only giving warnings if they pull you over for distracted driving. After that, you can get cited.

“We’re trying to reinforce that thought, get into the public, talk to people, spread awareness on the issue,” Malone said.

Since they aren’t handing out citations just yet, they don’t have hard numbers to tell how effective the new law is. However, Malone says he has noticed some changes.

“This month, we’re one month into the law passing,” Malone said. “I’ve talked to a lot of troopers in the area, and they’re seeing positive results from it. From talking to the public, educating the public, that’s our main concern right now.”

Anything to try and improve the statistics Trooper Malone calls astounding.

“Since 2018 there’s been 62,000 crashes in the state of Ohio related to distracted driving,” said Malone. “Of those there’s been nearly 1800 serious injuries or fatal crashes. It’s a very serious problem we’re trying to confront.”

Incredibly high numbers Malone says are actually severely under reported.

Trooper Malone says there will be a better idea of how effective the bill is in the wintertime when more data has been collected.