Distracted Driving and its Consequences
According to the Ohio State Patrol, sending or receiving a text message takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field when traveling at 55 mph. Distractions like texting led to nearly 14,000 crashes in the state of Ohio last year, including 51 fatal. About 100,000 crashes each year nationwide involve drivers who are texting and not paying attention to the road. Between 2016 and 2017, the number of deadly crashes caused by distracted driving nearly doubled. A specific concern is the number of teenagers who use cellphones while driving. The Ohio State Patrol has reported that the rate of drivers ages 16 to 24 who visibly manipulated handheld devices doubled between 2010 and 2014. This is a dangerous and growing epidemic.
WHAT IS DISTRACTED DRIVING?
Distracted driving includes anything a person can engage in while driving that is not necessary to the operation of a vehicle such as programing GPS direction, eating, putting on make-up, and texting. Texting is a particular concern because it involves multiple layers of distraction; visual, manual, and mental. When a driver takes their eyes, hands, and head out of the game while driving, the consequences can be disastrous. According to the National Safety Council, there are common distractions that increase the chances for drivers to experience accidents such as:
- Reading increases your risk 3.4 times;
- Reaching for a moving object or turning around in the seat increases the risk 8.8 times;
- Talking on a cellphone increases the risk 4 times;
- Texting increases the risk of crashing up to 23 times.
In many situations, it is unlawful for drivers to text and drive and could result in being ticked for the offense.
OHIO DISTRACTED DRIVING LAWS
Talking on a Cellphone
For most Ohio motorists, there are no restrictions on talking on a cellphone while driving. However, for motorists who are under the age of 18 and driving with a temporary instruction permit or probationary license all wireless device use while driving is prohibited. In other words, the prohibition means no texting and no talking on a cellphone for these underage drivers.
Exceptions: Ohio’s wireless-device-use ban on underage drivers doesn’t apply when a device is used by a person:
- For emergency purposes;
- Whose vehicle is parked outside a lane of traffic; or
- Using a navigation system in voice-operated or hands-free mode.
Penalties: For a first violation of the underage wireless-device-use law, there’s a $150 fine and 60-day license suspension. Second violations carry $300 in fines and a one-year license suspension.
Ohio’s distracted driving law prohibits all motorists from using a handheld wireless communication device to write, send, or read a text-based communication while driving. The distracted driving law defines “handheld wireless communication device” as any wireless telephone, text-messaging device, personal digital assistant, computer, laptop, tablet, or similar wireless device designed or used for text communications.
Exceptions: Ohio’s texting-while-driving law contains a number of exceptions. These exceptions include using a device:
- For emergency purposes;
- While parked outside a lane of traffic;
- To read, select, or enter a name for the purpose of making or receiving a call;
- To receive navigation or safety-related information (like weather or traffic alerts);
- For navigation purposes; or
- In hands-free or voice-operated mode.
Penalties: A texting-while-driving violation is a minor misdemeanor in Ohio. A conviction carries a maximum $100 fine.
Depending on the circumstances, a texting violation could also lead to a reckless driving conviction. And if a texting offense results in the death of another person, vehicular manslaughter charges are a possibility.
APPS TO HELP MONITOR TEEN DRIVERS
Teenage drivers are 3 times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly accident according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. As summer approaches, the “100 Deadliest Days” stretching from Memorial Day to Labor Day begin. The “100 Deadliest Days” is the time of year where accidents increase for 16 and 17 year olds. For every mile on the road, drivers ages 16-17 are 2.6 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a fatal crash, and 3.2 times as likely as drivers ages 30-59. The most common distractions include talking to other passengers and interacting with a smart phone. It is said that distractions play a role in nearly 60% of teen crashes. With so much at risk, apps that monitor and report on teen drivers activities have been raising in popularity. Below are five apps that may help save a teen’s life and all of those who drive around them.
This app allows parents to monitor the trips that teen drivers take. The app gives parents the capability to set a travel perimeter for the teen to travel within, the speed the teen can travel, and the time when the teen needs to be home. If the teen does not follow one of the rules set by the parent or texts while driving, the parent gets a push notification letting them know of the incident. The app is free for the first seven days and then allows a one –time $14.99 fee. This app is available in both the App Store and Google Play store.
This app is designed to send incoming calls directly to voicemail and send an automatic response to texted messages (which are muted) when the app is launched on a teen driver’s phone. The app will automatically launch when it detects it’s in a car and will notify parents if the app is disabled. Drivers who use the app and have good driving habits can earn rewards. The app is free to use and is available on both the App Store and Google Play store.
This app is designed to turn on whenever the teen is driving and silences text message notification and sends an auto reply in the hopes of eliminating some of the most common distractors. The app is free and can be found in both the App Store and on Google Play.
This app is targeted at the teen who always has their phone in their hand. Instead of having to take their eyes off the road, this app allows texts, emails, and phone calls to be conducted in a hands-free mode. The app allows for customized options and is bluetooth and radio transmitter compatible. The app costs $13.95 per year, and also offers a family plan for $34.95. This app is only available on the Google Play store.
This app automatically puts the teen driver’s phone in Do Not Disturb mode in order to mute texts and calls while they’re behind the wheel. The app monitors the teen’s driving and if they speed or try to text, the app will swap the music playing in the car from theirs to a special parent-selected playlist. The app is free and only available in the Google Play store.
HAVE YOU OR A LOVED ONE BEEN HARMED BY A DISTRACTED DRIVER?
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a distracted driver, we have a team of tough, smart attorneys who can help. We can’t undo the pain of your injury, but we can help you get the compensation you deserve. To speak to one of our experienced attorneys at Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz L.P.A., contact us online or cal l us at 937-223-8888.
Written by: Rachel A. Lemaster