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Analysis: Ohio drivers spending less time on phones

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(The Center Square) – A year after Ohio put in place stronger restrictions against using cellphones while driving, the state announced a more than 8% decrease in distracted driving.

Figures gathered by Cambridge Mobile Telematics show an 8.6% drop, which it says helped prevent 3,600 crashes, 2,000 injuries and 17 deaths in the past year.

“Most distracted driving can be attributed to cellphone use, and this new report shows that Ohioans are committed to reducing this dangerous behavior,” Gov. Mike DeWine said. “Distracted driving puts everyone on our roads at risk, and it’s clear this new law is saving lives.”

Ohio’s law makes it illegal in most cases for drivers to use or hold a cellphone or electronic device. The violation is now a primary offense, meaning a driver can be pulled over if witnessed by an officer.

According to the state, before the new law drivers spent an average of 1:42 on their phones for every hour of driving. In the second month since the law was passed, that number dropped to 1:30.

Cambridge says the state continues to see a consistent month-over-month decline before reaching 1:29 by the 10th month.

“This new data is indisputable evidence that strong laws, strict enforcement, and public awareness are the keys to preventing crashes and saving lives,” said Emily Davidson, Ohio Traffic Safety Office executive director. “Ending distracted driving is a priority, and we are excited to see that we are on the right track to making our streets and highways safer.”

The state plans to spend more money this month on an ad campaign to encourage more motorists to stop cellphone usage while driving.

“We’re on a long-term journey to change behavior,” Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jack Marchbanks said. “Electronic distractions are as dangerous as driving impaired by drugs or alcohol and deserve the same stigma.”

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