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Distracted Driving Safety Corridor: US 33 to see increased enforcement

The corridor, which spans U.S. 33 from the Nelsonville bypass to Pleasant Hill Road, will now...
The corridor, which spans U.S. 33 from the Nelsonville bypass to Pleasant Hill Road, will now see targeted enforcement and increased signage reminding motorists to ditch the distractions and focus on driving.
Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 12:36 PM EDT
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ATHENS, Ohio (WSAZ) - Faced with a growing issue of distracted driving in Ohio, the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) and Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) have launched a new Distracted Driving Safety Corridor in Athens County.

The corridor, which spans U.S. 33 from the Nelsonville bypass to Pleasant Hill Road, will now see targeted enforcement and increased signage reminding motorists to ditch the distractions and focus on driving.

“The hope here is we’re going to reduce crashes on (U.S.) 33 and make sure Athens County is a safer place for everyone to live and travel,” said Brice Nihiser, Southeastern Ohio Regional PIO for the OSHP, said.

U.S. 33 has seen the highest number of distracted driving crashes for any route in Athens County since 2019, and will be a major focus for troopers in 2021.

According to statistics from OSHP, from 2019 through 2021 so far, there have been 86 distracted driving violations along U.S. 33.

U.S. 50 has the second highest number of violations, which stands at 73.

When it comes to crashes within the last two years caused by distracted driving, 16 have been reported along U.S. 33. State Route 13 follows closely behind with 11.

According to OSTATS, 11,006 distracted driving crashes occurred statewide in 2020 resulting in 29 fatalities.

“Distracted driving continues to threaten the lives of those who engage in this dangerous behavior, as well as those around them,” said Lt. Steven Daugherty, OSHP Athens Post commander. “Providing awareness, education, and enforcement will be our focus as we partner with ODOT to make Athens County a safer place for motorists.”

Beginning this week, ODOT contractors will install signs to alert drivers when they enter the corridor and warn there is zero tolerance when it comes to unsafe driving behaviors. Motorists should expect to see additional troopers in the corridor, as well as increased enforcement of the violations associated with these distracted driving crashes.

“We’re pleased to partner with the Patrol on this Distracted Driving Safety Corridor in Athens County,” said ODOT District 10 Deputy Director Darla Miller. “Distracted drivers compromise the safety of everyone on the road. By establishing this corridor, we hope to raise awareness, reduce crashes, and save lives.”

Distracted driving safety corridors have proven effective in other areas of the state, most notably the state’s first safety corridor along I-76 and I-80 in Youngstown where deadly and injury crashes decreased by more than 30%.

Troopers encourage drivers to save texts and calls for later to make sure everyone stays in their lane.

“At the end of the day, everyone wants to make it home,” Nihiser said.

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