With the holiday season in full swing, we are all busy and tempted to multitask while driving.  How many times have drivers driven down the road and realized that the next driver is so busy talking on their phone that they cannot stay in their lane?

Distracted driving has been a problem since the invention of the first car. In today’s world, there are a growing number of items competing for a driver’s attention. The smartphone beckons with chimes and rings to answer. Drivers also get distracted by selecting their favorite music, eating, reading, and performing personal hygiene. These distractions cause drivers to miss traffic signals, cut off other drivers, and misjudge safe following distances.

The Ohio House of Representatives passed House Bill 95 to help combat the epidemic of distracted driving. The bill adds an extra fine of up to $100 for each charge where it is proven that distracted driving caused a motor vehicle violation. For example, if a driver is looking at their phone while striking a car in front of them, they could receive the extra $100 fine.

The new legislation defines distracted driving as any activity that is not necessary for the vehicle’s operation and that impairs the driver’s ability for safe operation. This could mean that taking a drink or reaching for that last fry in the bag could land a driver in legal peril.

The spirit of the bill is to make drivers think twice before dividing their attention while operating a motor vehicle. Question if the activity can wait until reaching the intended destination. If driving, put the phone in airplane mode until arriving at the destination. This will lessen the temptation to check any messages.

AAA representatives say that distracted driving causes approximately 21,000 crashes per year in Ohio. Most of the time, this number is obtained through self-reporting, so the real number is much higher. In short, drive on every street as though it was your street. Be safe and stay informed!