TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - "Put the phone down or pay the consequences," was the message Toledo's police chief George Kral gave as he and other law enforcement in Lucas County launched an aggressive campaign Wednesday to promote safer driving.
Kral is warning drivers to be prepared to be pulled over if their phone is out while at the wheel. To avoid getting a ticket, he is also urging drivers to their phone away in the glove compartment or their purse.
Police have legally found a way to pull drivers over for the offense and will start to do so Wednesday.
Drivers who are pulled over for using their phone while driving will be cited for "operation in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property" which is a primary offense.
Officers only need to prove that a driver was distracted, had their hands off the wheel, or were not paying attention to the road to write the ticket. The chief said it takes split seconds to cause an accident by looking at the phone.
"It's so dangerous, put it right up there with driving while intoxicated," said Kral. "Vehicles drive so fast, relatively small speed and if you're not looking up through the window results can be deadly."
Statistics say drivers are 23 times more likely to crash while texting and driving. Kral said he's seen it all too often.
"People's lives can me lost in a matter of a second because they're answering a text from their husband or wife to pick up milk."
Ohio State Highway Patrol, Sylvania, Whitehouse Waterville, and UTPD are all involved.