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Ohio’s New Distracted Driving Law Shows Promising Results

Man holding a cell phone while driving a car, holding the steering wheel with his other hand.

Drivers seen using phones behind the wheel face citations.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and one year after a new law aimed at reducing the practice took effect, there’s some good news. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP), the number of distracted driving crashes was down 55% year over year across the state.

“It’s very encouraging; that’s what we want to see,” said OSHP Sergeant Tyler Ross. “But, we want to continue to drive that number down.”

Ross noted that in 2023, there were 28 fatal crashes in Ohio that were related to distracted driving – the lowest number in the five-year lookback period.

Governor Mike DeWine signed the law in January 2023, and it took effect last April. Police were allowed to give warnings to drivers during the first six months the law was in effect and began issuing citations in October.

A tougher approach to distracted driving

The law made using a phone while driving a primary offense, meaning police can pull over drivers for that reason. Previously, police had to witness another type of traffic infraction before being able to make a stop.

The penalties for violating the law include:

  • 1st offense in two years: 2 points assessed to driver’s license, up to a $150 fine.*
  • 2nd offense in two years: 3 points assessed to license, up to a $250 fine.
  • 3rd or more offense in two years: 4 points assessed to license, up to a $500 fine, possible 90-day suspension of driver’s license.

Fines are doubled if the violation occurs in a work zone.

From 2018 through 2023, there were nearly 56,000 distracted driving crashes throughout the state, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Distracted driving poses a significant danger because it diverts the driver’s attention away from the task of operating the vehicle safely, increasing the risk of a car accident. Whether it’s texting on a cellphone, adjusting the radio, or talking with passengers, distracted driving reduces a driver’s ability to monitor the road and respond to changing traffic conditions.

“You’re driving a multi-thousand-pound car down the roadway; that’s a deadly weapon,” said Ross. “It’s proven that it’s killing people, taking people’s lives, and seriously injuring people.”

Contact an experienced Ohio car accident lawyer

An accident caused by a distracted driver can change the lives of victims in an instant. They are left with painful injuries and need medical treatment. Medical expenses add up quickly and victims may find it hard to pay them, especially if they are unable to work.

However, holding distracted drivers accountable is complicated if you were involved in this type of accident. Negligent drivers deny they were distracted at the time of the crash. Insurance companies may dispute the extent of injuries you suffered. They may even try to blame you for what happened.

Or they’ll make a lowball settlement offer that falls far short of covering the damages you suffered.

That’s why you need an experienced car accident attorney on your side. The attorneys at Gervelis Law Firm are ready to meet with you. We can review the details of your crash, discuss your legal options, and answer any questions you have.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Our Ohio offices are located in Canfield, Warren, Akron, Columbus, and Toledo.

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