AAA: Distracted driving laws should get tougher

National and World
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MORAINE, Ohio (WDTN) – As Gov. Mike DeWine announces initiatives to crack down on distracted driving in Ohio, a Miami Valley AAA spokesperson urges state officials to pass laws that enhance enforcement and penalties.

Governor Mike DeWine has announced the creation of the Distracted Driving Advisory Council. This comes after a state task force released a new report with several recommendations to get more drivers to put down their phones and pay attention.

Many Ohioans agree that distracted driving remains a problem on the road. John Mowry, who lives in West Carrollton, said he sees it just about every day.

“It’s unsafe generally,” Mowry said. “It’s not appropriate to be playing with a device when you should be using a vehicle instead.”

According to state officials, nearly 80,000 crashes were linked to distracted driving in Ohio between 2013 and 2018, killing 268 people.

The new Distracted Driving Advisory Council will work with the Ohio Department of Public Safety to improve education on the topic, according to Gov. DeWine.

“We should not think of distracted driving crashes as accidents,” DeWine said at a press conference Thursday. “Distracted driving, as we know, is truly a choice.” 

Educating drivers is just one of the recommendations from the Ohio Distracted Driving Task Force. The task force also suggests passing tougher laws.

Texting while driving is currently a secondary offense in Ohio for drivers age 18 and older.

“We’re seeing increasing numbers of distracted driver crashes,” said Cindy Antrican, public affairs manager for AAA.

Antrican, who works in the Miami Valley, served on the task force. She said she wants a statewide ban on the use of handheld devices that is enforced as a primary offense.

“Whether you’re holding the phone or whether you’re talking into the speaker when you interact with devices in your car, you are driving distracted,” she said. “But we have to start somewhere.”

State officials are expected to announce the members of the Distracted Driving Advisory Council within the next few days.

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