When we last wrote about the Ohio texting and driving law in a previous posting, we discussed the dangers it posed and we reviewed the penalties that legislators had inserted into the law to deter drivers from violating it. Recent statistics released by state officials show that 20 percent of car accident deaths in Ohio are still caused by the distracted driver who is focused on his or her cell phone instead of on the road.
One problem with the current law is that police in communities such as Columbus who sees a motorist texting and driving are powerless to do anything unless they also witness the commission of another traffic offense. By making texting while driving a secondary offense, the state has not given police the right stop the driver.
The death and serious injury that a car accident caused by a negligent driver talking or texting on a cellphone can cause has lawmakers considering a change to the existing texting and driving law. The change would make texting a primary offense. This change would give police the authority to stop a driver when texting is the only offense observed by an officer.
Another change to current law would increase the penalties for drivers convicted of a texting violation. The proposed legislation takes aim at people who create a risk of serious injury for highway workers and school children by banning the use of cell phones in work zones and school zones.
Something that will not change with the proposed legislation is the right of a car crash victim to make a claim for compensation against a negligent driver responsible for causing the accident. Depending upon the extent of the injuries and the facts of the car accident, a victim might be entitled to medical expenses, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering.
Source: WCPO, “Ohio aims to increase penalties for texting and driving,” Dec. 3, 2014