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Distracted driving crashes on the rise in Ohio

More than 100 distracted driving crashes have happened in northwest Ohio already this year.

OHIO, USA — Texting and driving continues to be a problem on Ohio roads. 

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, so far in 2020, there have been more than 1,200 distracted driving crashes across the state. And, more than 100 of those accidents have happened in northwest Ohio. 

Troopers with OSHP claim that data rises on a daily basis.

While distracted driving cases continue to happen, members of law enforcement are somewhat hopeful the new "Hands Free Ohio" bill will help prosecute these drivers. 

Through the bill, if a driver causes an accident with injuries or fatalities because of distracted driving, the penalties would be similar to the ones drunk drivers face. It will also give law enforcement the ability to pull someone over for using their phone on the road. 

"It will give us the ability to address the problem right away, not wait for that marked lanes violation because that one marked lanes violation could be the one where someone runs off the road and hits somebody," OSHP Sgt. Ryan Purpura said.

Officials in northwest Ohio are hoping the bill makes its way through the legislature with little changes in language. Members of law enforcement hope lawmakers understand how big of a problem this has become. 

"We can all hope that it stays close to what the legislation is now. So, we can keep it a primary law and have some teeth into it and have those increasing penalties," Sandy Weichman with Safe Communities Wood County said.

The timeline for legislation is unclear at this point.

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