When there is a discussion about auto accidents in Cincinnati and across Ohio, one of the most common concerns is distraction. The prevalence of smartphones gives drivers the ability to be connected all day, every day.
While this can be useful in an emergency, it is also an irresistible temptation to text, make phone calls, check social media and surf the web. Even using it for directions can lead to drivers being distracted. Lawmakers are aware of the problem and have recently taken steps to address it.
Ohio Senate to consider House-passed distracted driving law
The Ohio House of Representatives recently passed legislation that would allow law enforcement to make a traffic stop if they see a driver looking down at their handheld device. This would change the current law in which officers can only cite drivers for being distracted if they committed a separate violation like speeding. It will make texting and driving a primary offense, allowing law enforcement to make these stops and give citations.
The bill will now head to the Senate. If it passes and is signed by Gov. Mike DeWine before the end of 2022, it will become law. If not, the process will need to start all over again. There will be times where drivers can use their devices when driving. For example, if they are completely stopped (a “non-moving” situation), they can use their device. They can also use it in an emergency or if it is on speaker. The main worry is when drivers have the device in their hand.
Statistically, distracted driving has been a catalyst in almost 73,000 accidents since 2017. Of those accidents, around 2,100 resulted in people being seriously hurt or losing their lives. In 2022 alone, there have been 28 people killed in an accident due to distraction.
Even if the law passes, drivers should still be attentive and know their rights
Although a distracted driving bill may dissuade some drivers from constantly checking their phone, many are likely to ignore the law and use their devices. This raises the chance of an auto accident significantly.
A distracted driving crash can happen without warning with drivers running red lights, swerving into the opposite lanes, rear-ending vehicles ahead of them and running off the road completely. When there is an accident and distraction might have been a factor, it is essential to gather evidence when deciding how to proceed. Receiving compensation for medical care, lost income and long-term consequences often requires professional advice. This is a critical aspect in the aftermath of any collision.