DeWine releases new eductational tool for distracted driving prevention


COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Traffic Safety Office (OTSO) recently released a new educational video for use by parents, teachers, and driver education instructors to help them explain the dangers of distracted driving to teens.

The light-hearted video is targeted toward youthful drivers and features a pair of young hosts answering the distracted driving questions that instructors get the most.

“This new educational video uses a light touch to engage young drivers on this incredibly serious topic,” said Gov. DeWine. “By using young drivers to deliver this message, we hope the important safety lessons stay with Ohio’s teenagers every time they get behind the wheel.”

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, there have been more than 69,000 distracted driving crashes in Ohio since 2017, including 2,060 fatal and serious injury crashes. In 40% of these incidents, drivers were between the ages of 15 to 24.

“Reducing crashes on Ohio roadways is one of our top priorities,” said OTSO Director Felice Moretti. “With more distractions now than ever before, it’s important to teach our young drivers that the road demands your attention when you’re behind the wheel. This video demonstrates that point in a creative and engaging way.”

Ohio traffic laws include several penalties for driving distracted:

• In Ohio, distracted driving is considered a primary offense for drivers under 18, which means that teens can be pulled over if a law enforcement officer sees them using their mobile device in any way.

• Drivers who are cited for distracted driving face a fine of $150, and teen drivers face an additional 60-day license suspension.

• An additional $100 fine can be levied for distracted driving if it occurs during the course of committing a moving violation. The additional fine can be waived if the offender attends a distracted driving education course.

The new distracted driving video was officially unveiled at the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s booth at the Ohio State Fair on Wednesday. The video can also be viewed on the Ohio Department of Safety’s YouTube page.

The new video is another step in Gov. DeWine’s comprehensive plan to improve the safety of Ohio’s roads. In 2019, he directed the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to put focus on improving the 150 most dangerous intersections in the state. To help address unintentional motor vehicle crashes, which are one of the leading causes of death for teenagers and young adults in Ohio. Gov. DeWine also launched the “Ready, Test, Drive!” virtual driver assessment program to more accurately assess new drivers’ road readiness and help identify skills needing improvement. In 2020, Gov. DeWine formed the Ohio Traffic Safety Council to coordinate and monitor all statewide safety initiatives; launched a new work zone traffic enforcement plan in coordination with ODOT and the Ohio State Highway Patrol; and awarded grants to juvenile courts to help them give young drivers more access to advanced driver training.

Earlier this year, Gov. DeWine also announced an increase in Ohio’s yearly funding allocation for local bridge projects by $47.5 million for the next five years and announced an investment of $51 million into new traffic safety improvement projects to address an increase in pedestrian-involved traffic crashes and fatal roadway departures on state and local roads.

OTSO, a division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, focuses on a mission to save lives and reduce injuries on Ohio’s roads. Last year, OTSO awarded over $31 million in grants to be used for projects such as traffic safety education, enforcement, and engineering.

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