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Close-up Of A Man's Hand Typing Text Message On Mobile Phone While Driving Car

In January, Ohio’s Governor signed a bill strengthening restrictions on distracted driving. The law went into effect in early April and changed existing regulations. The law makes phone use while driving a primary offense, which means a police officer can conduct a traffic stop even if a distracted driver hasn’t broken any other laws. Previously, police could only ticket drivers for phone use if they had done something else wrong on the road, like speeding or running a red light. Distracted driving was previously only a primary offense for juveniles.

The law includes a six-month grace period, which means officers cannot issue tickets for distracted driving until Oct. 4. According to the Ohio Highway Patrol, distracted driving contributed to at least nine fatal crashes and 71 crashes with serious injuries last year. Studies have shown that driving while texting is significantly riskier than driving drunk, but most drivers — up to 80%, by some estimates — have used their cell phones while behind the wheel. While drunk driving carries harsh penalties and social stigma, distracted driving is often viewed differently — even though it is more dangerous given its prevalence in everyday life. 

The Risks Of Distracted Driving 

Taking your eyes off the road to read a text message is enough to cause a serious crash. About 3,000 people die every year in the U.S. because of distracted driving. But research has found that these statistics aren’t enough to stop people from using their phones while driving. Some drivers say they text while driving out of habit, while others claim to want to stay connected to their loved ones. Crucially, many drivers who text don’t feel that it impacts their ability to drive safely on the road, even though data tells a different story.

In 2007, Washington became the first state to ban texting while driving. Since then, almost all U.S. states have joined, and 42 states have enacted primary bans on handheld phone use. There have been more than 61,000 distracted driving crashes since 2018 in Ohio, and tightening distracted driving laws could reduce that number. Phone use is the most prevalent type of distracted driving, but it isn’t the only type. Eating, fiddling with the radio, talking to passengers, and applying makeup can distract a driver and cause a preventable crash. 

What’s In The New Ohio Distracted Driving Law?

The Ohio bill forbids drivers from doing various activities, including dialing a phone number, typing text messages, using social media, making FaceTime calls, playing games, recording videos, and watching videos. Drivers are allowed to use voice-to-text software and GPS devices so long as they do not hold the phone. Numerous exceptions include making emergency calls and using phones while stopped at red lights. If a driver is pulled over for an applicable violation after Oct. 4, they’ll face penalties.

  • Up to a $150 fine and two points on your license for the first offense in two years
  • Up to a $250 fine and three points on your license for the second offense in two years
  • Up to a $500 fine and four points on your license for your third or more offense in two years; possible license suspension 
  • Fines are doubled in work zones 

Distracted Driving Wrecks

A car crash can change your life in an instant. Physical injuries like sprains, broken bones, head trauma, and whiplash are common and can leave you needing medical treatment. Car crashes can also inflict an emotional toll and cause anxiety and post-traumatic stress for victims. Car crashes may leave you unable to work, attend school, and enjoy life like you previously did.

Even though drivers face severe penalties for inattentive behavior under the new law, plenty of people still choose to drive distractedly. We have control over our habits behind the wheel, but we can’t stop other drivers from breaking the law. Unfortunately, those in Ohio are injured daily from distracted driving. If you’ve been involved in a distracted driving crash, finding an Ohio distracted driving attorney soon after the crash is essential. Murray & Murray will investigate your claim, help find evidence of the distraction, and help you get the compensation you need to recover fully. Call 419-624-3000 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. 

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