This Columbus police officer has handed out the most distracted driving tickets


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- When it comes to distracted driving, Ohio has a serious problem.

The Ohio Highway Patrol says it accounted for nearly 13,000 crashes last year, 52 of them were deadly.

Columbus Police Officer Keith Conner has written more driving while distracted tickets than any other police officer on the force.

Advertisement - Story continues below

"My conviction rate is 99.4% which is pretty much unheard of out of 541 citations," Conner said.

We saw him in action.

In less than 5 minutes after he parked near the White Castle Headquarters on Goodale Street, he walked up to a woman parked at a stop light.

Officer Conner: "Are you reading emails?"
Driver: "No. I'm not."
Officer Conner: "What is that?"
Driver: "It's, I'm trying to get directions."
Officer Conner: "Ma'am, those are emails. I got it on camera."

For the past two years, he's been sending a loud message to drivers about the dangers of distracted driving.

Most of the time, he says he gives drivers a warning.

"If I see ya and there's a kid in the car, there really is no negotiation," Conner said. "You are going to be cited because that kid's life is worth so much, and parents need to know that that piece of plastic is worthless."

So, why did Officer Conner decide to give out these warning and make distracted driving his mission? It was actually born from personal experience.

"I was actually run off the road by a man in his late eighties who had a flip phone and I was run off the road into a bus stop," Conner said.

He says most people believe stopping at a red light gives them a green light to text.

"That is not true at all, you have to be off the roadway and car must be in park," Conner said.

So, the next time you decide to pick your phone while driving... Don't... Because you may find Officer Conner standing right next to you.

The Columbus Division of Police is so committed to making sure people are not distracted while driving they are committing a group of officers for the entire month of September to ticket people who they catch driving while distracted.

In Columbus, a ticket for driving while distracted will cost you $192 dollars.

Starting in late October, Ohio's texting-while-driving ban will be greatly expanded to include any form of distracted driving -- from talking on the phone to applying makeup.

Gov. John Kasich signed legislation Monday that makes distracted driving a secondary offense in the state. That means when the law takes effect in 90 days, police who pull over motorists for a traffic violation could give them an additional ticket if any form of distracted driving contributed to the primary offense.

10TV is dedicated to ending distracted driving. For more information on Maria's Message, click here.