ODOT, OSHP announce Summit County distracted driving safety corridor

Published: Jan. 11, 2023 at 6:24 AM EST
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SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - Crews from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) are installing signs this week, denoting a distracted driving safety corridor in Summit County.

Once all signs are in place, the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) will start targeted enforcement in the area.

It’s a reminder for drivers to keep both hands on the wheel and eyes on the roads.

“We have many different titles,” said OSHP Sgt. Ray Santiago. “There is trooper, roadway engineer, EMS Fire, but our most important titles are mother, father, son, daughter.“

The new, eight-mile long safety corridor is located on I-77 between SR-18 and SR-21.

One driver told 19 News the installation is a no brainer: “It just becomes normal. I look over and see people on their phone all the time, it’s just a part of the culture at this point. It’s definitely not a good normal, it’s pretty dangerous if you take your eyes off the road for a few seconds.”

Gov. Mike DeWine expanded Ohio’s distracted driving laws on Jan. 3, making it a primary offense.

The changes do not go into effect until April, but that means police can now pull drivers over for things like texting, calling or surfing social media while driving.

“This can range in anything from people putting on makeup, looking back to talk to passengers in the backseat,” Santiago said.

Here are the punishments:

  • First offense is a fine up to $150 fine and two points on your driving record
  • Second offense up to a $250 fine and three points
  • Third offense up to a $500 fine, four points, and a possible 90-day license suspension

On top of the new law, drivers can expect to see increase patrol presence on the roads

“We’re trying to make things relevant through increased awareness rather than through tragedy,” said Santiago.