Ohio Handheld Ban Has Reduced Distracted Driving More Than 8%

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Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT), the world’s largest telematics service provider, on April 25 announced a new analysis on the distracted driving levels in Ohio, just three weeks after the state enacted a handheld phone ban.

The analysis shows Ohio drivers spent an average of 1 minute and 39 seconds per hour on the road handling their phones in March. Since the handheld ban began April 4, phone motion distraction has fallen to an average of 1 minute and 31 seconds per hour, a drop of more than 8%.

CMT’s data shows every 10% decrease in distracted driving reduces the crash rate by 1.4%. CMT estimates the 8% reduction in distraction in Ohio since April 4 has helped prevent more than 300 crashes, one fatality and $8 million in economic damages.

“In CMT’s research across states analyzing the impact of handheld bans since 2018, we know that they work in the short term and they are critically important. The challenge is maintaining the gains states make after the bans go into effect,” said Ryan McMahon, SVP of strategy for CMT. “We’re excited to be able to share these results just three weeks after Ohio’s ban went into effect and provide feedback to the road safety community. Telematics is the only way to measure these changes in driving behavior at scale in real time.”

CMT has measured the impact of hands-free legislation across eight other states since 2018. On average, states have seen a 16% reduction in phone motion distraction in the week following the law's implementation compared to the month before. This impact fades to 13% after three months. However, by the end of 2022, the phone motion rate across the eight states was 3% higher compared to the month before the law.

CMT defines phone motion distraction as when the phone is rotating with the screen on while the vehicle is moving. Auto insurers use phone motion in usage-based insurance pricing to assess risk, and can impact a driver’s premium.

Phone motion distraction has increased consistently in Ohio since 2020. In 2020, drivers spent an average of 1 minute and 30 seconds per hour handling their phones while driving. In 2021, that number increased to 1 minute and 34 seconds. By 2022, phone motion distraction reached 1 minute and 40 seconds, an 11% increase compared to 2020. From January through March 2023, the average was 1 minute and 41 seconds.

There has been no consistent pattern in seasonal phone motion levels in Ohio since 2020. In 2020, phone motion surged by 14% in the spring, when the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. In 2021, the spring and summer seasons saw the highest levels of phone motion distraction, with an average of 1 minute and 35 seconds per hour. In 2022, winter was the highest season, with 1 minute and 41 seconds per hour.

The current 8% drop in phone motion distraction in Ohio is the biggest the state has seen since 2020.

Source: Cambridge Mobile Telematics

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