Tougher texting and driving law proposed for Ohio

Proposed legislation comes after deadliest month on Ohio roads

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would toughen distracted driving laws in Ohio, according to the Columbus Dispatch. The bill would make texting and driving a primary offense, thus allowing police to more easily pull over distracted drivers. The proposal comes after the State Highway Patrol released statistics showing that November has so far been the deadliest month on Ohio's roads and highways in 2014, with a significant rise in fatal car accidents compared to last year.

Texting and driving

The proposed legislation, House Bill 637, would make texting while behind the wheel a primary offense, meaning that police would be able to pull over drivers believed to be texting without having to observe them committing any other offense. Under current law, texting and driving is a secondary offense, meaning police need to observe drivers committing some other offense, such as speeding or cutting off motorists, in order to pull drivers over for texting.

Proponents of the bill say it is sorely needed. While 44 states, including Ohio, ban texting while driving, Ohio is just one of five that does not make it a primary offense. According to one lawmaker, making texting and driving a primary offense has been shown to reduce fatal car accidents by three percent.

November deadliest month

The proposed legislation seems appropriately timed given that the Ohio State Highway Patrol say that traffic fatalities were up significantly across Ohio in November. According to WKBN News, traffic fatalities increased by 52 percent in November of this year compared to last year, with 111 deaths recorded during the month.

The deadliest counties were Franklin, Montgomery, and Medina Counties, with 16, 14, and 13 traffic fatalities respectively. Columbiana and Mahoning Counties were both tied for fourth with 10 fatalities each. According to police, impaired and distracted driving are the biggest contributors to fatal accidents in the state. So far in 2014, impaired drivers have caused 35 percent of traffic fatalities.

Legal representation

As the above stories show, Ohio's roads can be dangerous places at times, especially with so many motorists endangering other people's lives by choosing to drink or text while driving. Such reckless behavior not only makes for bad driving, but it also creates a public safety hazard for all other drivers on the road.

For those who have been injured by a negligent or reckless driver, help is at hand. Talking to a personal injury attorney can help victims of car accidents learn about what legal options may be available. A qualified attorney can provide valuable advice about a victim's case, including, in some cases, pursuing additional claims against any at-fault driver.