Driving distracted is dangerous. Distractions can be visual, manual, or cognitive. Visual distractions take your eyes off the road. Manual distractions take your hands off the wheel. Cognitive distractions take your mind off of driving.
According to Ohio law, driving distracted means that driver is engaging in any activity that is not necessary to the operation of the vehicle or could reasonably be assumed that the activity would impair the ability of the driver to operate the vehicle safely.
Different types of distracted driving include texting, talking with other passengers, eating or drinking, adjusting the radio, or changing the GPS.
Using a cell phone while driving is prohibited in Ohio, except when using the phone on speaker phone, through a Bluetooth system, with a hands-free or voice-operated system, or through the vehicle’s system. Reading, writing, or sending a text while driving is prohibited with few exceptions involving emergency use.
Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4511.204
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), over 2,800 people died and about 400,000 people were injured from a distracted driving collision in the US in 2018. About 20% of those who died were pedestrians, cyclists, or otherwise not inside a vehicle.
Younger people are at a higher risk. In 2018, a quarter of fatal accidents caused by distracted drivers were in their 20s. Teenage drivers accounted for 8% of accidents. 9% of teen fatalities in car accidents are due to distracted driving.
What Can You Do?
As a driver, you have the responsibility to drive safely. It is important not to multitask and to put your full attention on the road. Check your mirrors, pick your music, reply to that text or email, and finish eating before you start driving.
As a passenger, let the driver know that their focus on the road is their top priority. Help them with any navigation issues or radio changes.
As a parent of a teenage driver, let them know the dangers of driving while distracted. Talk to them about how important it is to focus their full attention on the road and that texting or answering the phone can wait. Let them know that there are fatal consequences to driving distracted and you want them to be as safe as possible. Lead by example and do not drive with distractions.
Under Ohio law, texting and driving is prohibited. However, it is a secondary law. This means that police cannot pull someone over just for texting while driving. But, if a driver is pulled over for a moving violation, for example, they can be given a fine for unlawful cell phone use. Adult violations can be fined $150 with an additional $100 if they were distracted while committing a moving violation. The additional fine will sometimes be waived if the offender attends an educational course about the dangers of distracted driving.
In Ohio, police can pull over drivers under the age of 18 for any cell phone use. The police can give these teens $150 in fines and 60 days without their driving privileges on their first violation. If they have been fined before, the fine could be as high as $300 with a full year of their license being suspended.
There is current legislation in Ohio to add on to the existing distracted driving laws in the state. House Bill 283 would essentially upgrade the law to a hands-free mandate. The Bill would also change cell phone use to a primary offense. This means that anyone holding a cell phone while driving can be pulled over. The exception being for in case of an emergency.
U Drive. U Text. U Pay.
The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has an annual campaign to combat texting and driving, U Drive. U Text. U Pay. This campaign has $5 million in media exposure across the nation. Ads in both English and Spanish air on television, radio, and other digital platforms that target younger drivers. This campaign urges everyone to:
Turn off electronics and put them out of reach before driving.
Lead by example to younger drivers and talk to them about consequences.
When you notice the driver using a cell phone or other electronic device, say something. Help them make a phone call or look up an address.
Wear your seatbelt, always.
Be extra alert to pedestrians and cyclists, as they may be distracted themselves.
Car Safety Features
As distracted driving is one of the top reasons for car accidents, automobile makers have added new safety features to keep drivers, passengers, and pedestrians as safe as possible.
Driver Monitoring Systems Some cars have driver monitoring systems that have cameras and sensors that use facial recognition technology to see signs of distraction. When the car notices the driver has become distracted, it will notify the driver to pay more attention. Some cars can detect drivers’ hands when on cruise control, making sure that you are not reaching for their phone. Other types of these systems detect fatigue and will notify the driver to take a break.
Lane Departure Warnings This type of warning comes in vehicles when the driver is veering outside of the lane. Warnings include lights, a notification on the monitor, or even a seat vibration.
Lane Keeping Assist To add extra safety measures to veering outside of the lane, lane keeping assist will physically steer the car back between the lines.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay When a driver hooks up their phone in a new car, they can most likely see all of their apps displayed on the monitor. This allows the phone to be connected to the car’s system, which in turn, leaves the voice control more accessible. These systems may also block features that are distracting to the driver.
Attorneys for Distracted Driving Car Accidents
A great way to prevent car accidents is to be fully focused on the road. Do not text and drive. Do not drive when you are tired or focused on something else. If you are walking or cycling near cars, be aware that all drivers might not be fully focused.
However, if you are involved in a car accident involving a distracted driver, it is best to call a personal injury attorney that can assist you with your needs. We, at Kruger & Hodges, are here to help you. Contact us here!