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Distracted Driving Now a Primary Traffic Offense in Ohio

Distracted driving is a significant hazard on the roads. It is currently one of the leading causes of car accidents and moving violations, still many drivers continue to use mobile phones while driving. A recent change in Ohio law is designed to make the roads safer by holding drivers accountable for distracted driving.

What Does the New Law Change?

Ohio Governor, Mike DeWine, recently signed SB 288 which will strengthen laws related to the use of cell phones and other devices while driving. This law will go into effect on April 3, 2023, with a six-month grace period, during which time drivers will be issued warnings instead of citations. Under this new law, drivers may still use a device when their vehicle is parked or stopped. Drivers are still permitted to make emergency calls and swipe their phone to answer a call, as well as hold the phone to their ear.

While the former law targeted only juvenile offenders for a primary offense (adult drivers could only be issued a citation in addition to a separate primary violation), the new law allows law enforcement to pull over adult drivers solely for distracted driving. Penalties have also been increased, with fines up to $150 for a first offense and two points on your license, and increased penalties for repeat offenses thereafter.

Man texting while driving a car.

Dangers of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving isn’t limited to mobile phones. Any non-driving activity a person may engage in that has the potential to draw your attention from the primary task of driving will increase the risk of an accident or injury. Many of these activities are legal, but are still unsafe, and this includes hands-free technology as well. Many drivers have moved to hands-free phone use while driving, but studies have proven that accidents are still more likely to occur. When drivers are focused on other tasks, even a simple conversation, their reaction time is significantly slower. Distracted driving kills an average of nine people daily nationwide and is the fifth-highest cause of accidents, even higher than accidents caused by drivers who are under the influence of alcohol.

Using the Change in Law to Change Behavior

Many drivers underestimate the impact distracted driving has on their reaction time and driving performance. While they may intellectually understand that distracted driving is responsible for more accidents, they may think that they are better drivers than others, and they can manage the distraction safely. With drivers in Ohio being held accountable for their actions, behavior may begin to change for the better. With the risk of a fine and points on a license, drivers may begin to take distracted driving risks seriously.

The truth is, distracted drivers cause accidents. If you have been seriously injured in an accident where the at-fault driver was distracted by a mobile device, you are entitled to compensation for injuries and damages that result. If you feel that distracted driving may be to blame for your accident, contact Arthur Law Firm at (419) 782-9881 for a free consultation right away.