Ohio law enforcement, including Portage County police officers, will be joining forces for a distracted driving enforcement and awareness effort starting today through April 15 in an effort to reduce distracted driving related crashes and raise awareness about the dangers distracted driving creates.
In addition to enforcement, the Portage County Safe Communities coalition will be assisting the Ohio Highway Patrol at Ravenna High School to remind students "distracted driving isn't about a citation and fines - it's about saving lives," said Lynette Blasiman, director of Portage County Safe Communities.
The initiative is part of a campaign created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to curb distracted driving behavior nationwide.
Distracted driving is defined as any activity having the potential ability to distract a driver from the primary task of driving.
Examples include using the cell phone, eating or drinking, focusing on passengers, personal grooming, reading, using a navigation systems and changing a music device.
Texting and driving is illegal in Ohio. Under the age of 18, it is illegal to use any mobile communications device and is a primary offense -- which means it's the only reason police need to pull you over. The first violation is $150 fine and a 60-day driver's license suspension. The second violation is $300 fine and a one-year driver's license suspension. Adult drivers are permitted to talk on cell phones, but may face a $150 fine for sending or reading text or email messages.
Officers will be focusing on crash-causing violations that may be caused by distracted driving, including aggressive driving, marked lanes violations, following too closely and driving left of center.