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Understand the risks of distracted driving this summer

In 2018, Ohio introduced a new law combatting distracted drivers. The law requires drivers to pay enhanced financial penalties or complete a distracted driver course, in addition to paying existing fines.

Despite this progress, the threat of distracted driving is as prominent as ever across Hamilton County and the rest of the country. Summer is an especially dangerous time, with more cars on the roads, teenage drivers out of school and the potential for long road trips over holiday weekends. What do you need to know to stay safe?

Defining distracted driving

While many drivers understand the dangers of distracted driving, many fail to understand that distractions can come in forms other than texting. Refrain from being a distracted driver yourself by learning the CDC’s three main categories of distractions:

  • Manual. This involves taking your hands off the steering wheel.
  • Cognitive. This involves diverting your attention from the task of driving.
  • Visual. This involves taking your eyes off the road ahead of you.

Because texting encompasses all three of these categories, it is one of the most dangerous distractions. However, drivers should also refrain from other distracted habits like eating, putting on makeup or even fidgeting with the radio or navigation system.

Talking with your teenagers

Teenagers are at an elevated risk of driving while distracted, especially over the summer months. The AAA recently released an alarming new study stating that crashes involving teen drivers have killed nearly 3,500 in the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day from 2013-2017.

Of these fatalities, 9% were due to distracted driving. However, the AAA reports that distractions behind the wheel are an underreported problem. Another AAA study states that 52% of teen drivers reported reading a text while driving within just the past 30 days, while 40% reported sending a text or an email. Because it can be difficult for law enforcement to prove the role of distractions after a crash, the exact data linking distractions to fatalities may be erroneous.

If you have teenagers at home, having discussions about the dangers of distracted driving and the necessities of giving full attention on the roads can be beneficial. Enhance the safety of yourself, your children and others on Ohio roadways by understanding the nature of distracted driving and having honest, frequent discussions about the risks involved.

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