Is texting and driving in Ohio illegal?

In Ohio, it is illegal for drivers to text and drive, but drivers still become distracted by other activities.

In Ohio, according to the Traffic Safety Bulletin, it is illegal for drivers under the age of 18 to use any sort of wireless communication device while they operate a vehicle. It is also illegal for drivers of all ages to text and drive, but this is only a secondary offense. This means law enforcement officials can only stop a car when they see a driver texting if the driver is also committing a primary offense, such as speeding.

Other dangers

In 2016, 13,994 drivers in Ohio caused a motor vehicle accident because they were distracted by something inside of their vehicle. Of these collisions, 26 were fatal and resulted in a total of 27 deaths for the year. Another 4,965 drivers were involved in injurious car accidents, which resulted in 7,239 injuries.

While it could be assumed that these collisions were the result of drivers trying to text and operate a vehicle simultaneously, the largest form of distraction reported in 2016 in Ohio was labelled as "Other Inside the Vehicle." This form of distraction was involved in 50 percent of the fatal crashes that year and 60 percent of the distracted driving collisions as a whole. Actions included in this category were talking with other passengers and eating or drinking, for example.

Categorizing distraction

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines distracted driving as any activity that takes a driver's full attention away from the road. There are also three primary forms of distraction, which include:

  • Visual-This form of distraction occurs when drivers remove their eyes from the road. For example, a driver who looks at GPS device instead of the road is visually distracted.
  • Manual-Drivers who remove their hands from the steering wheel are manually distracted. For instance, a driver who reaches for something on the passenger seat while the vehicle is in motion is manually distracted.
  • Cognitive-When drivers stop thinking about driving, they become cognitively distracted. If, for example, a driver focuses on a conversation with a passenger, he or she becomes cognitively distracted.

However, texting and driving is still the most dangerous form of distracted driving because it combines manual, cognitive and visual distraction.

Contact an attorney

Drivers in Ohio injured by a distracted driver may suffer severe emotional, mental and physical harm. For this reason, injured drivers should reach out to an attorney in their area after a collision to ensure their legal rights are protected.