43 Forum: Driving Distractions - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

43 Forum: Driving Distractions

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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

When it comes to knowing what's happening on the roads and the number of people traveling during the holidays, we turn to AAA for info.

AAA offers more services than sending a tow truck when a vehicle breaks down, they also get involved in road safety issues.

Ohio-based AAA director of public affairs, Brian Newbacker, speaks about driving issues in northeast area.

During the 12 year span he's been working in AAA public affairs Brian has been an advocate for driving safety.  His focus remains on traffic safety issues, and fundraising for roads and bridges in Ohio as well as a number of other states.

One of the issues that have the public's attention is texting while driving. AAA has been integral in helping pass a law in effect that bans texting while driving. AAA has been addressing distracted driving for more than a decade and warning about the dangers of cell phones while driving.

Brian Newbacker comments that when cell phone companies were marketing the ability of phone technology to text, AAA hoped people didn't do that behind the wheel. People do text while driving and as a result there are crashes.

There are a number of driving distractions; however AAA through research has identified texting to be the chief distraction to drivers. That is why they sought to ban texting through the legislature in all 50 states. Right now there are 39 states passed texting while driving bans. More states are expected to follow.

The bottom line is that doing anything other than focusing on the road while driving is dangerous. The most dangerous being texting, which is why 95% of Ohio AAA members support the ban on texting while driving.

The results of AAA's research provide a framework for the severity of driving distractions. 69% of licensed drivers admit to talking on phones and driving within the past 30 days, almost 90% of them say other drivers using cell phones are a threat to their personal safety, and 65% say they speed, while almost 45% drive tired, and 53% text or email while driving. Just in the state of Ohio, over a three-year period recently, there were 31,000 crashes related to distract driving.

Currently in Ohio texting is banned as a secondary enforcement issue, meaning that a person has to be pulled over for something else and if they do that and you're texting, they can give you a ticket.

In terms of teenagers, the law is strong to prevent them from texting while driving. Parents need to be aware. Their 16 and 17 year olds shouldn't be talking on the cell phone or texting while driving.  There is a penalty for doing that. Here's something many parents aren't aware.

A few years ago, there was a push to limit passengers and driving at night for teenagers. This is because more crashes occur at night and much more likely to occur when there are passengers in the vehicles when 16 and 17 year olds are driving. Teenagers are more prone and more apt to take chances, show off, speed and take a curve too fast.  The driving curfew enforces 16 year olds to be off the roads from midnight to 6:00am and limits 17 year olds between 1am to 5am.

Driver who are 16 and 17 years old are on a provisional license as part of a graduated licensing system, to ensure they gain experience as they get more privileges and fewer restrictions.

This graduated learning system starts with a learner's permit which is granted after 50 hours of practice time including ten hours at night and the stair step process leads into full privileges granted at 18 years of age.

Brian Newbacker suggests that the best way to react when spotting a distracted driver on the road is to give that person more room or perhaps try to safely get around them especially if they're weaving into other lanes.  He warns about being confrontational in these situations because road rage is also a dangerous driving issue.

It takes time for law enforcement to figure out best ways to limit and enforce dangerous driving, but other states are doing it, other municipalities are doing it and in the city of Cleveland laws are getting stronger to help ensure better safety for all.

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