Legislators consider stricter distracted driving law in Ohio

Ohio legislators will consider adopting tougher laws to combat distracted driving.

For many of us, driving is a routine part of our day; a necessary means to get from point A to point B. Unfortunately, as a task becomes commonplace, people are likely to attempt to complete other activities simultaneously. Currently, one of the most dangerous trends among motorists in Ohio and across the country is the use of cellphones when behind the wheel.

Distracted drivers are more likely to cause a serious motor vehicle accident. Consequently, legislators in Ohio are considering a bill that would strengthen the existing distracted driving laws in the state.

The proposed legislation would make texting while driving a primary offense in Ohio. Currently, texting while driving is a secondary offense, meaning law enforcement officers may only issue a citation for texting while driving if the motorist was stopped as a result of a different traffic violation.

Legislators are hopeful that making texting while driving a primary offense will aid police officers in enforcing the law and will ultimately lead to a reduction in the number of people injured or killed in distracted driving crashes. According to Representative Damschroder - the bill's sponsor - states in which texting while driving is a primary offense have noted a 3 percent decline in the number of people killed in auto accidents.

In addition, the bill would ban the use of cellphones when driving through construction and school zones.

Distracted driving crashes in Ohio

In addition to the secondary law prohibiting texting while driving in Ohio, novice drivers in the state are also banned from using cellphones when on the road. The prohibition includes both handheld cellphones and those that have hands-free capabilities.

These distracted driving laws are aimed at reducing the frequency of distracted driving collisions in the state. According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, drivers distracted by a cellphone caused 2,894 auto accidents in Ohio in 2013. Comparatively, in 2012, there were only 453 distracted driving collisions reported in the state.

Of the almost 2,900 distracted driving crashes in Ohio in 2013, 16 resulted in at least one fatality. Across the country, 3,328 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In addition, around 421,000 people in the United States suffered injuries in auto accidents caused by distracted drivers in 2012.

Motorists who use their cellphones while behind the wheel put all other drivers on the road at risk. When a distracted motorist causes an auto accident, he or she must be held accountable for the damage resulting from the crash. If you or someone you love has been involved in a distracted driving accident in Ohio, you should consider talking to a skilled personal injury attorney.

Keywords: distracted driving, texting, Ohio