GREENVILLE — Texting while driving is fast approaching alcohol as the biggest threat on the road, Sgt. David L. Robison told the Darke County Safety Council during the December meeting held Thursday.
Robison is the assistant post commander at the Ohio State Highway Patrol Piqua Post, and he spoke to the Safety Council on the topics of distracted, impaired and defensive driving as guest speaker for the meeting.
He told the group that distracted driving is doing any activity that could divert the driver’s attention from the road. This includes texting, using a cell phone or smart phone, eating or drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading (including maps), using a navigation system, watching a video, adjusting a radio/CD player, or rubbernecking at an accident.
Robison also pointed out the importance of knowing the vehicle you are driving, recalling incidents of pulling over drivers for not having their lights on and being told by the driver that they didn’t even know where the switch for the lights was on their new car.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 3,154 people killed in distracted driving crashes in 2013.
Robison said the likelihood of a teenager getting into a crash increases by 50 percent with one other teenager in the car, and it increases accordingly with more in the car.
“That’s why when you hear of fatal crashes involving teenagers, there’s usually more than one teenager in the car,” Robison said. “They get talking with their buddies or their girlfriends or whoever’s in the car with them, they take their eyes off the road.”
Robison reminded the group that adults are allowed to use cell phones in their cars only for talking, and texting is prohibited in any lane of travel at any time, including stop lights, and teenagers are not allowed to use cell phones in the car at all.
“Think of the safety of everyone, not just your needs,” Robison said.
Robison asked the parents in the room to remember their own youth and how they got along without cell phones. He reminded them that by calling to check in on their teen who hasn’t called quite on time, they are adding the distraction of a call or text while the teen is driving.
Robison also addressed the issue of aggressive driving as well as impaired driving. He pointed out that drivers can be cited for operating a vehicle impaired (OVI) even if they are under the so-called “legal limit” for alcohol. A blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent will mean automatic driver’s license suspension, but that level is not necessary for an OVI charge. Also, not only will alcohol and illegal drugs cause impairment, but prescription drugs can as well. Impairment behind the wheel, even if it’s a prescribed medication, can bring an OVI citation – or cause a crash.
In other business, Sharon Deschambeau, secretary/treasurer and Safety Council manager, acknowledged the 25th anniversary of the Safety Council.
Deschambeau also thanked the Brethren Retirement Community for providing the venue for the Safety Council’s monthly meetings rent-free. In thanks and acknowledgement, she presented a check from the Safety Council to John Warner, president/CEO of Brethren Retirement Community, in the amount of $2,000. Warner said the money will be used toward a new bus.