New numbers suggest Ohio’s distracted driving law is working, but Cleveland drivers admit there’s still work to do

Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 10:20 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It’s been less than one month since Ohio’s new distracted driving law went into effect, banning the use of hand-held devices while driving and allowing officers to pull people over if they see a violation.

According to Cambridge Mobile Telematics, the ban has reduced distracted driving by 8%, preventing about 300 crashes.

The software company says last month, Ohio drivers spent an average of 1 minute and 39 seconds per hour on their phones. The number dropped to 1 minute and 31 seconds after the ban.

But there’s still work to do.

“I’ll be honest, [sometimes] I’m on my phone too,” at 19-year-old driver told 19 News. “It’s something I think about. Sometimes I have to break really quick if I’m at a stop sign and I put my phone down for the rest of the drive.”

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed the bill into law on in January, expanding the state’s distracted driving laws, giving officers more freedom to pull drivers over for violations.

“Distracted driving is a killer, it’s unnecessary,” DeWine said at an afternoon news conference. “If we can eliminate distracted driving, we will save many, many lives.”

When the law went into effect on April 4, texting while driving is prohibited and becomes a primary offense.

It was already illegal in Ohio, but it was a secondary offense for adults, meaning officers needed to witness a separate, primary offense before pulling drivers over.

The law also prohibits holding and looking at wireless devices while on the move, including entering information into GPS.

Using GPS devices is allowed, but the information must be entered before moving.

Drivers over the age of 18 can make and take calls as long as they’re hands-free.

The law provides exceptions in emergency situations and while stopped at a red light.