Report: Drivers spent over 8% less time on phones after distracted driving law

A report has found that Ohio drivers are spending over 8% less time on their phones while driving since the state’s new distracted driving law went into effect in April.

The report, from Cambridge Mobile Telematics, found that drivers before the law spent an average of 1 minute and 39 seconds each hour handling their phones on the road. After the law went into effect, that fell to an average of 1 minute and 31 seconds per hour, a drop of over 8%, according to the report.

In more concrete figures, the report said that that decrease prevented over 300 crashes, one fatality and $8 million in damage.

Ohio’s distracted driving law made it illegal to use or hold a cell phone or electronic device in your hand, lap or other parts of the body while driving, though drivers over 18 can make and received calls via hands-free devices, including speakerphone, earpieces, wireless headsets, electronic watches or by connecting their phones to their vehicles.

Other features like audio streaming apps or navigation can be used if they are turned on before getting on the road or use a single touch or swipe to use, modify or deactivate them.

There are also exceptions for reporting an emergency, holding the phone to your ear during conversation, using the phone when stopped at a traffic light or when parked during a road closure, or for certain professions.

The law includes a six-month grace period where law enforcement would issue warnings for distracted driving.

Cambridge Mobile Telematics Senior Vice President of Strategy Ryan McMahon said that the company’s research into similar handheld bans showed that they work in the short term and are “critically important,” but that “The challenge is maintaining the gains states make after the bans go into effect.”

In eight other states that implemented bans since 2018, CMT said, states saw about 16% reductions in distractions due to cell phones in the week after the ban went into effect, but that impact fades to 13% after three months, and by the end of 2022 the phone motion distraction was 3% higher than just before the bans.

In a release, the Ohio Department of Public Safety said that it would launch a public awareness campaign to teach drivers about the new law, titled “Phones Down. It’s The Law.” The campaign will run during the six-month grace period and include ads on TV, radio, billboards and social media, as well as a new website at

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