(WJW) — Video released to the FOX 8 I-Team gives you a new look at the danger you face every day from drivers not paying attention to the road because they’re distracted by phones and more.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol has been targeting this problem with regular enforcement and special campaigns. And a video recorded by troopers shows why.
In one case, a tractor-trailer nearly runs a trooper off the road. Once the trucker gets pulled over, the trooper says, “Thought maybe you were falling asleep.”
The trucker responds with, “I know. I know. I’m very sorry.”
The Patrol found that trucker had been adjusting something in his cab.
Video from Stark County shows a car weaving and drifting going so far off the road the driver finally hits the guardrail.
A trooper approaches and asks, “What’s going on, man?”
The driver answers, “Nothing, I didn’t even see that.”
Later he said, “I didn’t even mean to do that. I literally was trying to text my sister. That was the only thing I was trying to do.”
In yet another traffic stop, a trooper tells a driver, “Before I stop anybody, I make sure they weren’t actually on the phone which, unfortunately, you were.”
Chances are you’ve seen people rolling on the highway not paying attention.
And, the Highway Patrol has been cracking down on it like never before.
“Here in Northeast Ohio, our enforcement numbers are so far beyond where they were,” Sgt. Ray Santiago said.
Another video shows a driver telling a trooper, “I wasn’t texting. I was just looking at my phone. I didn’t text.”
The trooper responds with, “Still distracted. Can’t be looking at your phone, or anything like that.”
Investigators believe distracted driving may have played a role last week in a head-in crash in Geauga County. One person died. Another went to the hospital seriously hurt.
But, the Highway Patrol says, overall, the number of distracted driving crashes has been dropping with enforcement going up.
“Enforcement numbers are at a three year high with distracted driving,” Sgt. Santiago said. “We know that we need to address it. That’s what we’ve gone out and done.”
Distracted driving can involve more than just using your phone behind the wheel. Maybe turning up the radio, or eating, or dealing with a child. Troopers first have to stop you for something else, say, speeding or being reckless. But, you can get extra fines for distracted driving.
All of this a snapshot of what could be going on around you every time you drive. Sgt. Santiago added, the patrol analyzes statistics to try to find the worst problem spots.
“So, we’re able to look at some of the trends and some of the patterns that we see, not just in the big city areas, but in the surrounding counties,” he said. “Identifying some of those areas and being able to put our resources in locations where they’re most effective.”
You can see where the most enforcement and the most crashes have taken place in Northeast Ohio below: