Ohio agencies report decrease in crashes on I-75 distracted driving safety corridor

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Ohio Fatality Crash
This fatality accident, caused by distracted driving, occurred on Interstate 75 in northwest Ohio, before the state’s department of transportation established the distracted driving safety corridor. (Courtesy: ODOT)

LIMA, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Ohio State Highway Patrol on April 20 shared a report on the effectiveness of a distracted driving safety corridor on Interstate 75 in Allen and Hancock counties.

The distracted driving safety corridor was established in March 2020 on a section of I-75 stretching from south of Beaverdam in Allen County to rest areas in Hancock County, south of Findlay.

The corridor is designated by a series of signs in both the northbound and southbound lanes, warning motorists of the dangers of driving distracted. The signs also notify motorists they are entering the corridor, and that there is zero tolerance for unsafe driving behaviors.

The I-75 corridor is the second distracted driving safety corridor established in northwest Ohio. A corridor was placed on U.S. 6 in Wood, Sandusky and Henry counties in 2018.

“The purpose of the corridor is two-fold — educate drivers about the dangers of distracted driving and make motorists aware of law enforcement’s intense focus on stopping it,” said Lt. Tim Grigsby of the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Lima post, adding that even accounting for reduced traffic because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency has seen a decrease in crashes.

“We attribute that to the corridor and the opportunity it provides to educate and enforce,” he said.

What remains prevalent along the corridor, however, is excessive speed, with many drivers traveling more than 20 miles over the speed limit. In March, about 30 crashes on I-75 were attributed to excessive speed.

“Overall, vehicular traffic remains below pre-pandemic levels, and the temptation to speed on fairly open highways has persisted for the past year,” Grigsby said.

From January 2019 through mid-April of this year, approximately 90 citations were for distracted driving within the corridor, and more than 2,200 speed violations were issued.

According to a statement released by ODOT and the state highway patrol, the distracted driving corridor on I-75 will remain in place if it continues to produce results.

“This was intended to be a multi-year, targeted approach to reducing crashes related to distracted driving in this section of I-75, and we believe it has done so,” said Chris Hughes, ODOT District 1 deputy director. “The idea isn’t just to reduce crashes here, but also to place in the mind of motorists an awareness to drive safely and attentive at all times, everywhere.”

Similar corridors established in crash-prone areas elsewhere in the state have proven to be effective.

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