Troopers to target distracted drivers on Interstates 80, 76

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Local authorities with the Ohio State Highway Patrol and Ohio Department of Transportation will begin an effort targeting distracting driving.

The effort will include a 17-mile stretch of Interstates 80 and 76 from the Portage County line to the Pennsylvania border.

It’s an area that has seen nearly 130 injury crashes and three fatalities just in the last two years and all tied to some form of distracted driving.

"Four point six seconds. That how long it takes to send and receive a text message. At 55 miles per hour, you just traveled the length of a football field,” said Lt. Jerad Sutton.

Throughout the corridor, ODOT will be placing signage alerting drivers when they enter the corridor and also informing them that this is a high enforcement area. Signs will also be placed throughout the corridor reminding drivers of the dangers of distracted driving.

Troopers will be looking for those who are texting and driving and otherwise distracted behind the wheel.

It’s said to be the first-of-its-kind effort in the state and one of the first in the country.

It’s part of a statewide effort in conjunction with Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Since 2013, there have been 64,908 crashes caused by distracted drivers in Ohio. Those crashes have resulted in 189 deaths and 22,428 serious injuries, according to ODOT.

Tina Yassens knows all too well the ramifications of distracted driving. The difficult memories surround June 17, 2010. That’s the day her father Dave Muslovski was run down and killed by a distracted driver who’d been talking on her cell phone.

“This is not an area that I asked to be in rather one that I was forcefully put into. In a minute, my life was shattered,” Yassens said. “There is a great hole right in our hearts that will never be filled.”

Yassens said the real answer to combat distracted driving would is tougher laws that allow officers to stop anyone they see texting and driving.

“The time to act is now. The time to act is now before it is your family,” Yassens said.

Local authorities with the Ohio State Highway Patrol and Ohio Department of Transportation will begin an effort targeting distracting driving. The effort will be on Interstates 80 and 76 from the Pennsylvania state line to Portage County, Ohio. Courtesy: Ohio Department of Transportation

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