Dangers of Texting and Driving
For many years state legislatures have enacted “hands-free” laws to prohibit talking directly on a cell phone while driving. In more recent times, texting has proven to be a much bigger danger. Even hands-free devices or talk-to-text programs don’t help much because drivers are mainly focused on sending messages while behind the wheel. However, the dangers are completely preventable. Many accidents can be prevented simply by avoiding text conversations while driving.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving includes any non-driving activity a person may engage in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving, thus increasing the risk of a crash or injury to a person or property. Distracting activities include things like looking at directions, adjusting the radio, drinking, eating, and using a cell phone. Sometimes, even a hands-free conversation can be enough to distract you from driving. However, most of these activities are perfectly legal, though not always safe.
Categories of Distracted Driving
- Visual: When you are doing something that requires taking your eyes off the road, it is considered a visual distraction.
- Manual: When you are doing something that requires taking your hand or hands off the steering wheel, that is a manual distraction.
- Cognitive: A cognitive distraction is when your mind is focused on something other than driving. The effects of this distraction impact your reaction time to changing surroundings.
Texting while driving falls into all three of these categories. You are looking at your phone, taking one hand off the steering wheel to physically manipulate your phone, and your mind is focused on the conversation you are having.
The Dangers of Texting and Driving
To ensure that you are driving as safely as possible, it’s best to keep your eyes and mind on the road and your hands on the wheel. According to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration, distracted driving kills, on average, nine people each day nationwide. When you aren’t focused on the road, your reaction time is much slower. Accidents due to distracted driving have been steadily rising over the past decade, and it is currently the fifth-highest cause of driver-error accidents in Ohio, even more than DWI accidents.
Current Texting and Driving Laws in Ohio
Talking on the phone while using a handheld device is still permitted in Ohio, with two exceptions: (1) Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators, and (2) drivers under the age of 18.
Commercial Motor Vehicle drivers are prohibited under federal law from using a hand-held mobile telephone or engaging in texting while driving, except other than to communicate with law enforcement or emergency services. Likewise, drivers 18 and younger are not allowed to use any portable electronic devices, even hands-free devices in similar circumstances.
The Ohio Legislature House Bill 283 could soon change distracted driving laws in Ohio. Under the current law, officers can’t pull you over solely for texting and driving if you’re older than 18. It’s currently considered a secondary offense, which may earn you an additional citation, but it cannot be the reason you get pulled over. For example, if you run a red light because you were texting, you’ll get a citation for running the red light and a citation for texting and driving. Under HB 283, holding a cell phone or any electronic device while driving will become a primary offense, and would be enough by itself for officers to pull you over. In Ohio, the current fine for distracted driving is $150 (drivers under 18 also face a 60-day driver’s license suspension).
The more you understand the dangers of texting and driving, the more you may want to resist the urge to use your phone while you are behind the wheel. Instead, look at using mobile apps that auto-respond for you anytime your vehicle is in use. The risks, fines, and dangers just aren’t worth it.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, it’s important you know these laws may pertain to your case. Let your attorney know if you suspect that distracted driving was to blame. We fight for victims’ rights because we believe everyone is entitled to the compensation they deserve. You shouldn’t be financially burdened by injuries from an accident that wasn’t your fault. If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, we can help you. Contact Arthur Law Firm (419) 782-9881 for a free consultation.