“Would you drive the length of a football field with your eyes closed while traveling at 55 miles per hour?”
If you are like most reasonable people, you would not hesitate to reply “No” to that question. Such behavior would seem so risky, negligent almost to the point of recklessness, that the question itself seems silly.
But if we rephrase the question – “Have you ever taken your eyes off the road for five seconds to read or send a text message while driving on the highway?” – many honest people would likely answer “Yes,” even though they are also effectively giving the same affirmative answer to the first question above.
The safety problems inherent with texting and driving are so serious that the state of Ohio has enacted a law prohibiting drivers from engaging in it, except for certain specific situations.
Adults 18 and over may still use electronic devices for purposes like telephone conversations or dialing telephone numbers on a smartphone, or for GPS navigation, receiving text-to-voice messages, or other hands-free applications.
The law treats drivers under age 18, as well as those with probationary licenses, as a special class and imposes more restrictions on them. These drivers generally may not use electronic wireless communication devices at all — not only handheld ones, but even in-car systems –for any purpose, including texting, phone calls, emails or even using devices in connection with Bluetooth speakers.
The law contains some common-sense exceptions to its prohibitions, even for drivers under 18, such as allowing them to make calls to emergency services or when the car is stopped outside of traffic, or to use GPS devices that are either hands-free or which they have pre-programmed with a destination before beginning their trip.
Violators of the law are subject to misdemeanor penalties: a fine of $150 and a 60-day license suspension for the first conviction, with the fine increasing to $300 and a one-year suspension for subsequent violations.
Avoiding a car accident resulting from negligent behavior behind the wheel is the responsibility of all every Ohio driver. Violation of the law against texting-while-driving would contribute to a negligence cause of action against the person committing the violation.