COLUMBUS, Ohio (WOIO) - New data from the Ohio State Highway Patrol shows 2020 was the deadliest year on Ohio roads in more than a decade.
The provisional numbers show 1,236 people died in crashes on roads in the state in 2020.
In 2019, 1,155 people died on the roads.
Since 2013, more than 53,000 people have been hurt on Ohio roadways.
Governor Mike DeWine is pointing to this new data as he doubles down on his commitment to strengthening Ohio’s distracted driving laws.
“Ohio’s current laws don’t go far enough to change the culture around distracted driving, and people are dying because of it,” DeWine said. “Distracted driving is a choice that must be as culturally unacceptable as drunk driving is today, and strengthening our current laws will lead to more responsible driving.”
In February 2020, DeWine introduced legislation that would make using a smartphone or other handheld device while driving a primary offense.
Currently, using a device for text-based communications is a secondary offense for those over 18 years old in Ohio.
Since it’s a secondary offense, law enforcement cannot pull a driver over for sending, receiving or reading messages unless they also commit a primary offense, such as running a red light.
DeWine’s proposed Hands-Free Ohio bill would prohibit the following actions while driving:
- writing, sending, or reading text-based communications;
- watching or recording videos;
- taking photos or looking at images;
- live streaming;
- using apps;
- entering information into GPS navigation programs;
- dialing phone numbers;
- holding a device for a phone call
Currently, there is no penalty in Ohio for doing any of the above actions while driving except for writing, sending, or reading text-based communications.
Democrats introduced a similar bill, House Bill 468, in the Ohio House of Representatives in 2019.