Distracted driving is a killer. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3,000 people died in 2010 in motor vehicle accidents that involved a distracted driver. While a driver can be distracted by a variety of things, one of the main culprits is texting, which makes a driver 23 times more likely to get into an accident than when driving when not distracted.
Ohio Law Bans Texting While Driving
Ohio recently took steps in the fight against distracted driving when Governor John Kasich signed into law a bill that forbids texting while driving for all drivers in the state. In addition, teen drivers under age 18 are not allowed to make cellphone calls or use any electronic device for any purpose. The law becomes effective in September 2012, and enforcement will be eased in, with law enforcement officers giving out warnings instead of citations for the first 60 days.
Adults can be ticketed for texting as a secondary driving offense, meaning that they must be first stopped by law enforcement for some other reason. For teens, texting while driving will be a primary offense. Violators of the law can expect a 60-day driver's license suspension and a fine of $150 for the first offense. For repeat offenders, the penalty rises to a one-year suspension and a $300 fine.
Family members of victims of distracted driving accidents expressed hope that the law will save lives, even as texting has become a highly popular activity, with more than 196 billion text messages sent or received in one month in the U.S. in 2011. While receiving or sending a text message, a driver's attention is diverted from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. In that time, a car moving at 55 mph can travel the length of a football field, greatly increasing the risk of a serious car accident.
As Ohio joins the 38 other states that have banned texting while driving, accidents unfortunately continue to occur. Victims and family members of people who have been hurt due to negligent distracted driving have a right to seek compensation through the legal system. An experienced personal injury attorney can help victims and their families explore their legal options.