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State Highway Patrol announces contributing factors to fatal crashes in 2019

FREMONT — The Ohio State Highway Patrol announced five contributing circumstances which accounted for 74% of Ohio accidents in 2019. The major determined factors are as follows: driving off the road, unsafe speed, left of center, failure to yield and following too close, according to a release from the Fremont post of Ohio State Highway Patrol.

It was determined male drivers were at fault in 75% of fatal crashes in Ohio in 2019, the release states. Unsafe speed has tended to occur more often with male drivers than with female drivers, according to the release.

It was also determined female drivers were 20% more likely to be at fault in failure to yield fatal crashes than males, it states.

Teenage drivers were more often at fault in fatal crashes caused by unsafe speeds and driving left of center than older drivers, according to the release.

In rural areas of the state, driving left of center and failure to yield in various situations were more likely to be the cause of fatal accidents than in urban areas, the release states.

According to early data, the State Highway Patrol has said 2019 was the second-deadliest year in the last decade with 1,157 deaths caused by traffic crashes.

Distracted driving is believed to be a factor in the increase of fatal crashes, the release states.

To that end, Gov. Mike DeWine announced details of new legislation meant to “change the culture around the use of wireless devices while driving” during a news conference Feb. 13, the release states. The Hands-Free Ohio Bill, with limited exceptions, was created to make the use of a handheld wireless device while driving a primary offense and increase penalties for drivers who disregard the law about use of wireless devices while driving, a release from the office of Gov. DeWine states.

Currently, the use of handheld devices while driving is a secondary offense, meaning members of Ohio law enforcement cannot stop a driver using a device unless they also commit a primary offense, such as running a red light.

The Hands-Free Ohio Bill, sponsored by Senators Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) and Sean J. O’Brien (D-Bazetta), will include stricter penalties for drivers writing, sending, or reading text-based communications; watching or recording videos; taking photos or looking at images; livestreaming; using apps; entering information into GPS navigation programs; dialing phone numbers; or holding a device for a phone call, according to the release from Gov. DeWine’s office.

The Hands-Free Ohio bill will increase fines for drivers who habitually use devices while driving, the release from DeWine’s office states. In cases where a driver using a device causes serious injury or death, the penalties will mirror those of drunken driving, according to the release.

“Law enforcement officers see the deadly consequences of distracted driving violations on a daily basis, and more often than not, these distractions involve the use of an electronic device,” Lieutenant Brent Meredith, commander of the Fremont Post of State Highway Patrol, is quoted saying in the Fremont Post’s release. “Distracted driving is unsafe and irresponsible, and in a split second, the consequences can be devastating.”

Exemptions written into the Hands-Free Ohio bill will include using hand-held wireless devices for emergency calls; using a device while in a stationary vehicle outside of the lane of traffic; using a device in hands-free mode to talk on the phone, dictate text-based messages or listen to received messages; use in circumstances where an action can be accomplished with only a single swipe; use in public safety or utility professions, as necessary for duties; or use if the wireless feature is a permanent part of the vehicle, the release from DeWine’s office states.

The Patrol reminds citizens to call #677 when witnessing unsafe driving on Ohio roads in the release. For more information, a traffic safety bulletin can be found at statepatrol.ohio.gov.

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