SOUTHINGTON, Ohio-- Under a black and white photo of a mangled, overturned car are the words, "If you think you're a multitasker, you're wrong." There's no mistaking the image Ohio State Highway Patrol wants to paint about distracted driving, yet it's a problem that has become increasingly difficult to solve.
"Over the years you see a wide variety of things from people shaving in a car, to putting on makeup, to reading a book," said Lt. Jerad Sutton of the Ohio State Highway Patrol Southington Post. "It's a recipe for disaster."
It's why ODOT and OSHP are working together in the state's first "Distracted Driving Safety Corridor," a 17-mile stretch of highway on I-76 near I-80, identified as a high crash zone for distracted drivers in Trumbull and Mahoning counties. The corridor has a series of signs reminding drivers nothing is worth taking their eyes off the road.
Although troopers say it's too early to call it a success, statistics show otherwise. According to OSHP, since the installation of the signs in April, driving violations have increased 320 percent, a result of the focus on the all too often deadly danger. Crashes in the corridor have plunged by 38 percent compared to this time last year. In addition, deadly and injury crashes are down by 47 percent.
The corridor is named one of the most dangerous in the area for distracted driving. According to an ODOT spokesperson, up to 60,000 vehicles pass through the largely flat and straight area every day including a large amount of tractor trailers. OSHP says the partnership was made possible thanks to a $50,000 grant.
"We've received federal grant money on top of our routine patrols," explained OSHP Lt. Brian Vail. "There's going to be officers that come out on overtime."
Lt. Sutton tells FOX 8 the corridor will remain for two years before the signs can be relocated to another hot spot for distracted driving crashes.