OFF THE WIRE
Ross health district gets traffic safety funds
Written by Special to the Gazette
CHILLICOTHE -- The Ross County Health District once again has been awarded traffic safety funding through the Ohio Department of Public Safety's Office of Criminal Justice Services.
The $42,000 award will be used to fund the district's Safe Communities Program, which focuses on areas such as seat belt use, impaired driving and motorcycle safety.
"One of our main goals is to build partnerships and promote awareness and education," said Heather Dunham, coordinator of the program. "We work with local law enforcement, schools, other agencies and even businesses. It takes teamwork to get the word out and to save lives."
The funds are passed through the state agency from the National Traffic Safety Administration to support the efforts of safety partners across the state.
Dunham said of increasing concern is distracted driving. The health district's recent Community Health Assessment found at least 20 percent of Ross County's drivers text and drive.
"More and more distracted driving is being cited as the cause of accidents," Dunham said. "Unless it's unavoidable, no one should talk on their cell phone while they're driving. And never should anyone try to text while they're driving. When you're eyes aren't on the road, it only takes a second for something bad to happen. "
A national survey conducted by AAA shines an even brighter light on the problem.
While as many as 90 percent of respondents reported they'd support a ban on texting while driving, 33 percent of them admitted to doing it. Half of respondents said they'd support a ban on cell phone use while driving, but 66 percent said they regularly use their phone while driving.
Some communities in Central Ohio already have laws governing cell phone use in place.
"A law governing it may be nice, but really, though, it's a people thing, and a common sense thing," Dunham said. "Our law officers have enough enforcement work to do already. We need for people to use common sense and not text while driving. We all know it's dangerous, so why do it?"