(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and leaders from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Ohio Traffic Safety Office (OTSO), a division of The Ohio Department of Public Safety, are encouraged by new data that shows the state’s strengthened distracted driving law is making a positive impact on Ohio’s roadways.
“Ohio’s new law went into effect a little over a month ago, and it’s already making a difference,” said Governor DeWine. “I’m glad to see that Ohio drivers are making safety a priority and putting their phones down while they drive.”
The report from Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT), the world’s largest telematics service provider, shows Ohio drivers are now spending less time handling their phones while driving since the law went into effect on April 4, 2023. The law makes it illegal in most cases for drivers to use or hold a cell phone or electronic device. The violation is now considered a primary offense, meaning any officer can pull over a driver immediately if they witness a violation.
CMT’s data analysis shows a 9.1% reduction in distracted driving in Ohio since April 4 has helped prevent 540 crashes, one fatality, and $13 million in economic damages. In March, Ohio drivers spent an average of 1 minute and 39 seconds interacting with their phones for every hour of driving. From April 4 through May 3, Ohio drivers used their phones while driving 1 minute and 30 seconds, a 9-second drop.
“We are pleased that Ohio drivers are taking this new law seriously and beginning to change their behavior, but there is still more work to do,” said Emily Davidson, executive director of the Ohio Traffic Safety Office. “There is no acceptable level of distracted driving. This behavior is dangerous and puts everyone on the road at risk. The goal is for all drivers to put their phones down for the entire time they are behind the wheel.”
“States that pass hands-free laws typically see a decrease in hand-held phone use and crashes. This data shows we’re on the right track to making our streets and highways safer in Ohio,” said Michelle May, manager of ODOT’s Highway Safety Program. “I believe more Ohioans will choose to put their phones downs as they learn about the new law and the dangers of interacting with their screens while driving.”
A public awareness campaign is underway now to teach drivers about the new law. The “Phones Down. It’s The Law.” campaign includes television and radio ads, billboards, social media, and a new website at phonesdown.ohio.gov. The campaign will be active during the law’s 6-month grace period where The Ohio State Highway Patrol and local law enforcement will be issuing warnings as part of the effort to educate drivers. As of May 10 2023, over 2,100 campaign materials have been distributed to traffic safety partners across Ohio.
“We applaud The State of Ohio for their proactive approach to fight distracted driving and save lives on our roads,” said Ryan McMahon, SVP of Strategy for Cambridge Mobile Telematics. “We’ve seen again and again how hands-free legislation raises awareness around the dangers of distraction and helps reduce drivers’ phone use. We’re encouraged by the 9.1% reduction in distraction we’ve seen after one month of the law being implemented in Ohio and are proud to supply road safety planners with the resources and insights needed to evaluate its impact.”