As of August 30, drivers in Ohio will be banned from texting or using other electronic devices while driving. It is already illegal in Ohio to use a cell phone while driving without a hands-free device, so the passing of this new legislation should come as no surprise to Ohio residents.
Distracted driving is when the driver is not giving their full attention to the task of driving. Distractions can cause the driver to weave within the lane, drift out of the lane entirely, and not see potentially dangerous conditions that could cause an accident (i.e., pedestrians, stop signs). According to Ohio State Police statistics, there were 31,231 accidents between 2009 and 2011 involving distracted drivers.
Similar to the seatbelt law, Ohio has deemed the distracted driving law a secondary offense for adults. This means that an officer must observe a driver violating other vehicle and traffic laws in order to stop them. However, also like the seatbelt law, some municipalities are making the distracted driving law a primary offense, meaning an officer can stop a driver if the officer observes them texting or using an electronic device. Observation of no other traffic violation is necessary. For drivers under 18, texting and driving is a primary offense throughout Ohio.
A common statement made at accident scenes involving distracted drivers is, “I only took my eyes off the road for a second.” A second is all it takes to change someone’s life forever. This new legislation will afford more rights to victims of distracted drivers in Ohio. Victims will now be able to rely on evidence that the driver was texting or using another electronic device while driving, which lead to the collision. This will force more distracted drivers to be held accountable for their hazardous driving.