Source: Ohio Department of Transportation; 1812Blockhouse Staff
As Richland County motorists head down I71 over the coming months, they would do well to pay attention to what they are doing.
As more drivers hit the road this summer, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) have teamed up to designate the first distracted driving safety corridor in Central Ohio.
A 22-mile stretch of Interstate 71 spanning Delaware and Morrow Counties is the newest location for targeted enforcement and more than a dozen signs to remind motorists to ditch the distractions.
“This is about saving lives and continuing to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving,” said ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks. “Corridors like this will remind drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their attention on the road – not their phone.”
According to OSHP, Central Ohio saw approximately 4,700 distracted driving crashes in 2017-18, including 13 fatalities. The data also showed a spike in distracted driving violations along I-71 in Delaware and Morrow Counties, helping to identify the best location to target.
“The goal of this effort is to improve safety and reduce crashes on this busy stretch of interstate that connects Columbus and Cleveland,” said District 6 Deputy Director Mitch Blackford. “In order to influence driver behavior, we need motorists to understand the impact of their choices.”
Last week, ODOT crews installed a series of signs to alert drivers when they enter the corridor and warn there is zero tolerance when it comes to unsafe driving behaviors. Motorists should also expect increased enforcement by OSHP.
“Troopers will be highly visible and looking for traffic violations that cause many of the crashes in this area,” said Colonel Richard S. Fambro, Patrol Superintendent. “Distracted driving is unsafe, irresponsible, and in a second could have lasting consequences.”
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 are down 30 percent since implementation.
A nap of the new distracted driving safety corridor is below.
At the same time, the ongoing resurfacing project on I71 continues in both northbound and southbound directions, from State Route 97 down to the Richland/Morrow County line. There will be single lane, daytime closure and nighttime closures impacting both lanes. Crews will continue night work from the county line to the State Route 13 exit. Work will progress in both zones simultaneously. The project is estimated for completion in October.