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ODOT and OSHP unveil new Distracted Driving Safety Corridor on I-77 in Summit County

Crews install signs along the new I-77 Distracted Driving Safety Corridor

AKRON – The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) are taking steps to improve safety along a section of Interstate 77 between state Route 18 and state Route 21 in northern Summit County.

From 2019-2022, the section of I-77 between SR 18 and SR 21 had 755 crashes resulting in 198 injuries and four fatalities. These statistics garnered the attention of OSHP and ODOT, who together developed plans to create the region’s latest Distracted Driving Safety Corridor.

On January 3, Governor Mike DeWine signed a bill that strengthens distracted driving laws in Ohio. The law goes into effect in April and makes the use of cell phones and other electronic communications devices while driving a primary traffic offense for all drivers, and allows law enforcement to immediately pull over a distracted driver upon witnessing a violation.

“Ohio’s new law is part of a comprehensive plan to make Ohio’s roads safer for everyone,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “By strengthening prohibitions against distracted driving and enhancing patrols in problem areas, it’s our goal to bring about systemic change in driver behavior that discourages the use of electronic devices while driving.”

This eight mile stretch of highway will be clearly marked with new signage alerting motorists when they enter and exit the corridor, and the importance of safe driving habits. The goal of this corridor is to improve safety by reducing crashes, injuries, and fatalities.

These signs are being relocated from the previous Distracted Driving Safety Corridor on I-77 between Faircrest Street and Wise Road in Stark and Summit counties. During the two years this corridor was being enforced, crashes were decreased by six percent, fatal and injury crashes were decreased by 13 percent, and 165 distracted driving violations were issued.

Motorists should expect increased patrols and enforcement by OSHP along the corridor to discourage dangerous driving behaviors in an effort to reduce crashes. Those efforts will begin later this week – when all signs have been installed – and will continue through 2023.

“When you take your eyes off the road – even for just a few seconds – you are putting your life and the lives of others in danger,” said Lieutenant Jonathan A. Ganley, Akron Post commander. “There is nothing more important than the safety of yourself, your passengers and other motorists – everything else can wait.”

Bringing attention to the hazards of distracted driving is more important than ever right now. Although distracted driving is known to be underreported, the OSHP reports that there have been at least 73,945 distracted driving crashes in Ohio since 2017, including 2,186 fatal and serious injury crashes.

Through partnerships and campaigns such as this, OSHP and ODOT hope to continue educating drivers on the importance of following traffic laws and eliminating dangerous driving behaviors.