During the first official week of Marietta's ban on the use of wireless devices while driving, the Marietta Police Department wrote out 55 warnings to drivers committing offenses that will gain them a minor misdemeanor and a fine, beginning Saturday.
But the good news has been that the majority of drivers issued warnings during this grace period have been from outside the city - or even the state - and therefore perhaps unaware that Marietta's law is actually stricter than the state of Ohio's. Signs, fliers and word-of-mouth did an excellent job getting out the word on this change in the law.
Police gave Marietta drivers plenty of time to get used to the idea that not only is using a wireless device while driving a very bad idea, it is also illegal. And no excuse is a good one.
"The one I've heard the most is that 'I was stopped at the red light, so I was not moving,'" said Marietta Police Capt. Jeff Waite. "And many have said they weren't aware the law existed."
Even without knowledge of the law, surely most drivers understand anything that distracts from total focus on the road is dangerous. But, just in case, it bears repeating that in 2010, driver distraction was the cause of 18 percent of all fatal crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Another study found text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times higher than driving without distraction. By the way, these distractions can include phone calls, text messaging, GPS devices, and virtually anything that requires taking eyes off the road and one hand off the wheel.
Marietta police will be doing their part to keep drivers safe by enforcing the new law, which could mean a fine as high as $150. Drivers should do their part as well, putting the cell phones away while driving and keeping their attention where it belongs, no matter in what city they happen to be driving.