Part 3: Ohio Insurers’ Lasting Commitment to Stop Distracted Driving

In our final installment, OII and its members pledge an ongoing commitment to distracted driving awareness. This post recognizes even more OII member distracted driving programs and outreach efforts, an overview of state and national laws, and what’s to come.

Our distracted driving conversation will stretch well beyond the month of April. Under construction is an OII Distracted Driving Resource page. We envision this as an ongoing compilation of distracted driving updates, resource links to insurance industry programs, featured news items, state and national programs, studies, videos, and more. If you have items for this page, please share them with us. Your help in constructing a comprehensive list of distracted driving resources is a positive and collaborative measure that we hope will make a difference over time.

Lastly, we publicly thank the collective contributions of the insurance industry to curtail distracted driving behaviors. A special thanks to the 16 OII members who shared programs with us throughout April. See our list of contributors noted at the end of this post.

Ohio law and pending legislation

Generally, Ohio law prohibits a person from operating a vehicle on a public roadway while using a handheld electronic device to “write, send, or read a text-based communication.” Ohio law contains the following exceptions for use of a handheld device: In emergencies; while parked; placing a phone call; use for navigation purposes; and for commercial truck operators while using a “mobile data terminal.” Violations of this law are treated as a minor misdemeanor.

While all Ohio drivers are banned from text messaging, those under age 18 are also not permitted to use cell phones or other wireless communication devices. They can be stopped as a primary offense, and risk losing their license for up to 60 days. For those 18 and over, the texting while driving ban is a secondary violation. Law enforcement may not enforce this law if the texting while driving violation is the only violation witnessed by the officer.

Ohio law does not preempt local municipal ordinances that provide additional enforcement measures or expand definitions. Cleveland, Dublin, and Columbus are examples of Ohio communities that have enacted local ordinances.

In February, State Representatives Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) and Jim Hughes (R-Columbus) introduced HB 95, calling for increased penalties for distracted driving. The bill adds a $100 penalty on top of other fines for moving violations if the driver was distracted by a “handheld electronic communications device.” The legislation defines “distracted” to include using handheld electronic devices with noted exceptions for necessary uses for operating the vehicle.

OII submitted a letter in support of HB 95. It notes that while this legislation is a good first step in curbing driver distraction, the insurance industry looks to future partnerships to increase public awareness and discussions with public policy leaders to enhance current safeguards that curtail distracted driving behaviors.

Distracted driving laws by state
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) April update:

  • 14 states and the District of Columbia ban talking on a hand-held phone while driving.
  • 37 states and the District of Columbia restrict use of cellphones by novice drivers.
  • 46 states and the District of Columbia ban text messaging for all drivers. Novice drivers in Missouri and Texas are banned from texting.

For more, see IIHS’ interactive map and tables, detailing laws by state.

Allstate: Reality Rides national tour underway

Allstate (@Allstate) launched its fifth annual Reality Rides® tour in April. The traveling roadshow features a distracted driving simulator, stopping in 50 cities across the US and Canada. This is more than double the number of last year’s tour stops. Follow the Reality Rides tour on Facebook, which also includes distracted driving resources. Ohio tour stops include Cincinnati and Cleveland, with dates TBA.

A recent Allstate post on driver behavior and an accompanying infographic based on polling of Reality Ride motorists provide additional insight into understanding driver habits. Both are at the post: Distracted Driving: Understanding Your Fellow Drivers.

Frankenmuth: Ongoing distracted driver resources

Frankenmuth Insurance (@frankenmuthinsis diving into distracted driving through an ongoing series of planned resources. View its initial post, 8 ways to avoid distracted driving, and be sure to check back month-end for yet another in its safe driving series.

A Safe Driving Agreement is in the works for late May, adding to Frankenmuth’s distracted driving conversation.

Western Reserve Group: TV partnership on W82TXT campaign

OII member Western Reserve is a three-year partner in WOIO TV-19’s (Cleveland) W82TXT campaign. View TV spots, interviews, public safety announcements and more on Western Reserve’s W82TXT campaign web page.

GEICO: Safe Phone Zones sponsor

Safe Phone Zones (SPZ) provide drivers with safe, convenient places to use their mobile devices while traveling, to help curb the distracted driving epidemic. Find them along US highways, rest areas and welcome centers in a half-dozen states including Arizona, Florida, Illinois, New York, Texas and Virginia.

GEICO (@GEICOis an active Safe Zone partner in participating state programs as a way to provide drivers a safe place to call, text and conduct business on mobile devices while on the road. Earlier this month GEICO announced its sponsorship of six Safe Phone Zones along the Illinois Tollway, operating in service plazas.

GEICO also offers tips to avoid distracted driving and other driver safety tools via its GEICO More branded content hub.

Maria’s Message: A collaborative effort uniting several OII members

In an emotional introduction, State Auto CEO Mike LaRocco welcomes Maria’s Message founder and ambassador Dom Tiberi.

In Part 3, we also want to recognize the partnership and collaborative efforts of several of OII members as supporters of Maria’s Message (@mariasmessage) and the Maria Tiberi Foundation. An emotional and real first-person message on the lasting effects of distracted driving through the eyes Columbus sportscaster, Dom Tiberi, has been advanced through industry support. Maria’s Message and its foundation are Dom’s way of honoring his daughter, Maria Tiberi, who lost her life in a crash. His foundation’s goal is to create a new generation of defensive, not distracted drivers.

  • State Auto is committed to doing its part to end distracted driving as a sponsor of Maria’s Message. The company’s partnership is focused on providing use of their four simulators at car dealerships and insurance agencies in multiple states, and sharing the distracted driving message at 10-TV community events. The company invited Dom Tiberi to address to associates at a December forum. The company was so moved by his message, that they’ve posted it on YouTube for public viewing!
  • Dom Tiberi’s Facebook post following his presentation to Motorists Insurance associates.

    Erie Insurance is also a sponsor of Maria’s Message, recognizing its significant contribution to distracted driving awareness efforts at the high school level. Through the Maria Tiberi Foundation and partial funding provided by Erie, the Reynoldsburg Police Department received a driving simulator.

  • At an all-associate meeting last summer, Motorists Insurance team members experienced the first-person message regarding the lasting effects of distracted driving through the eyes Dom Tiberi, who posted a personal thanks following his company visit.
  • State Farm is also involved in the Maria Tiberi Foundation, providing a driving simulator to the Newark Police Department that was partially funded by matching grants from State Farm and its local agents. The Licking County Sheriff’s Department and the ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital also received driving simulators, partially funded by State Farm.
  • The Whitehall Police Department received a driving simulator from the Maria Tiberi Foundation, partially funded by donations from Grange Insurance.

Thank you OII members for sharing your distracted driving programs. Let’s keep the conversation going!

View our 3-Part Distracted Driving Series:

Coming soon: OII’s Distracted Driving Resource Page

Posted: April 27, 2017