Is Texting and Driving Illegal in Ohio? | What Motorists Need to Know
As the world moves more and more of its activities online to improve efficiency and provide convenience, the risk of distracted driving continues to increase. According to Zippia, approximately 270 million people in the US own smartphones, with the average American dedicated roughly 5.5 hours to cell phone usage each day.
Furthermore, statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that roughly 424,000 people were injured and 3,100 died in motor vehicle accidents involving the improper use of cell phones in 2019.
These statistics are alarming, which is why it is important for drivers in Ohio to understand the legal ramifications and potential danger of using smartphones and other electronic communications devices while on the road.
This article will delve into Ohio's distracted driving law and equip motorists with everything they need to know about cell phone usage. Contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys for other questions like is It illegal to sleep in your car in Ohio?
Why Is Texting and Driving Dangerous?
Texting while operating a motor vehicle is considered more dangerous than driving while intoxicated for a number of reasons.
The Three Points of Distraction
While distracted driving encompasses any activity that causes the motorist to become preoccupied while driving, such as fussing with GPS commands, eating, or applying makeup, texting is especially dangerous since it combines all three major distraction points.
This includes visual, mental, and physical distractions. It diverts a driver's attention visually because it takes their eyes off the road, physically distracting because it takes their hands off the steering wheel, and mentally distracting because it takes their concentration off the vital task at hand: safely arriving at their destination.
The Human Brain Isn't Designed to Multitask
The truth is that the human mind isn't designed to give its full attention to the road when conducting another activity. Although it may seem like one is more productive by answering a work-related concern while getting to a client meeting or confirming the location for a get-together, a person's brain will be unable to give its full attention to either task.
This means that the distracted driver is unable to concentrate on driving and may fail to brake in time to avoid a collision or may veer off the road because they are not paying attention.
Distracted Driving Increases Reaction Time
A distracted driver's attention will be diverted, which means that they will be less likely to react quickly to a vehicle that cuts in front of them or a deer in the middle of the road. They may also miss changes in traffic patterns, which could lead to a crash.
Reduced Peripheral Vision
Another important reason why texting and driving are so dangerous is because it reduces a driver's peripheral vision. Peripheral vision refers to what a person sees on the left and right, as well as up and down when looking forward. It allows them to see things that could potentially cause an accident, such as a reckless motorist that suddenly cuts in front of them.
When a distracted driver looks down at their phone instead of straight ahead, they may lose their ability to notice potential problems and take the relevant action to avoid a collision.
According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Juvenile Drivers Are More Likely to Text and Drive
The number of adolescents who use smartphones while operating a motor vehicle has increased dramatically in the past few years, both in Ohio and across the country. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the number of motorists between the ages of 16 and 24 who clearly operated portable devices more than doubled between the years 2010 and 2014.
However, adult distracted drivers are not uncommon. The reality is that distracted driving crashes are becoming more widespread among people of all ages as the world continues to rely on technology for everyday activities.
Understanding What the Law Has to Say About Distracted Driving
Ohio takes texting and driving very seriously, and in an attempt to stop this unsafe practice, it has approved new legislation restricting cell phone usage while driving. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also give insight to laws dealing with questions such as Is brake checking illegal in Ohio?
Laws for Young Drivers
Cell phones are not permitted in the vehicle for anyone under the age of 18.
Teenage motorists are forbidden to text, play video games, or talk to someone else on the phone while driving. They are also not permitted to operate a GPS system until it's completely hands-free. Failing to follow these regulations could result in a primary traffic offense, which means a police officer can stop the teenage driver for it.
The laws in Ohio are strict for drivers under the age of 18 because they have less experience and are more prone to taking risks. Thus, the state recognizes this and eliminates the temptation to use a cell phone entirely.
Consequences of Violating These Distracted Driving Laws
A conviction for texting while driving can have substantial ramifications. The truth is that for a primary offense, offenders face a 60-day suspension of their driver's license, along with a $150 fine. They will also have two points against their license unless they complete a distracted driving safety course. A second offense will result in the driver losing his or her license for 12 months and having to pay a fine of $300.
Laws Aimed at Stopping Adult Distracted Drivers
While the previous law prevented law enforcement from stopping adult drivers for using their cell phones while driving, the new law prohibits adults from texting. However, the rules are a bit more lenient for drivers above the age of 18.
Although communicating via email or text while operating a motor vehicle is prohibited, talking to someone on a cell phone is permissible. The restriction on "text-based communication" stems from concerns about motorists diverting their attention away from the road for prolonged periods while responding to emails and text messages.
Because this is a secondary offense, law enforcement cannot stop an offender for it. They will need to first commit a separate primary traffic violation in order for the texting violation to be added to it. Penalties for texting while driving will result in a $150 fine. They will also have two points against their license unless they complete a distracted driving safety course.
There will be additional penalties, such as jail time, will also apply if the offender is caught texting and driving again.
Are There Any Exceptions to the Distracted Driving Law?
Although Ohio has stringent rules on the use of cell phones while driving, there are certain exceptions that may apply where this practice is not considered an offense.
Using a Phone During an Emergency or Road Closure
If there is an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a car accident, drivers are allowed to use their cell phones to text and make phone calls. However, the vehicle needs to be parked on a highway or road or be in light traffic in order for this exception to apply.
Likewise, utilizing a cell phone while responding to an emergency situation is not illegal, provided the driver is a firefighter, medical emergency personnel, or a police officer. The device may also only be used as part of their duties and not for recreational purposes.
Has Ohio's New Law Stopped People from Texting and Driving?
Authorities stopped 43 young drivers and 230 adults for texting and driving in the first year after the prohibition was introduced in Ohio. There were over 370 texting-related accidents in 2013, which resulted in 128 personal injuries and 6 deaths.
Despite the new regulation, motorists continue to practice distracted driving, and this is becoming more common as smartphone ownership increases. Despite changes to the law, it's not uncommon to see accidents involving drivers who were texting, so it's unlikely that this problem will go away.
Instead, ensuring that drivers are educated on the dangers of cell phone usage while operating a motor vehicle can help to lower the number of accidents that occur each year because of distracted driving.
It's important to note that failing to follow the law may not only earn a motorist the penalties mentioned above. They may also face legal consequences and spend much of their life savings paying compensation to victims of the car accidents they cause because of the improper use of a cell phone while driving.
Victims of Distracted Driving Crashes Can Obtain Expert Legal Advice from Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys
Being injured in a car accident is never easy to deal with. There are often mounting medical bills and lost wages that can make life seem unbearable for victims. It's even worse when the collision was the result of reckless texting and driving.
Victims who have been asking the question, "Is texting and driving illegal in Ohio?" can rest assured that the law is very clear when it comes to the use of cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. However, the truth is that every case is different, which is why it is important that victims consult a reliable automobile accident attorney in Toledo to learn more about their options.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is a trusted team of legal experts who aren't afraid to go to war for victims that have been harmed because of the negligence and recklessness of another.
To learn more about their legal options, victims are encouraged to contact the firm today to schedule a free consultation.