Distracted drivers are an epidemic on the roads of Columbus and central Ohio. Motorists chat on their phones, read and send texts, respond to emails, and take selfies to post on social media. They also pose a great threat to you and everyone else on the road. Here's what you need to know.
Distracted drivers a fatal menace
Distracted driving takes an increasingly deadly toll, killing 3,142 people on the nation’s roads in 2019, an increase of 10% over 2018, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Ohio officials say distracted driving should be as “culturally unacceptable” as drunk driving. In 2019, 42 fatalities and 13,505 crashes in the state were related to distracted driving. Officials believe the accident rates are really much higher because drivers do not want to admit to their illegal behaviors.
Ohio has a statewide ban on texting while driving. The state still allows talking on a phone with a handheld device, except for drivers younger than 18, who are prohibited from using any portable devices. Complicating matters, though, some towns and cities have made it illegal to drive while using a handheld device.
Fines, penalties, and safety tips
Adult violators of distracted driving laws face $150 fines. Teen violators face the same fine, as well as a 60-day suspension of their driver’s license. A teen with multiple violations is subject to a possible $300 fine and the loss of their license for up to one year.
A 2018 law adds an additional $100 fine for distracted driving during a moving violation, though the fine is waived if the violator attends a distracted driving education course.
Additional financial penalties also are likely. Violators face increased insurance rates and may have to pay court costs.
NHTSA offers some common-sense advice for people to avoid distracted driving. They include:
- Pull your vehicle over and park in a safe location if you need to write or read a text or engage in social media.
- Designate a passenger to handle your texts, messages, and phone calls.
- If you feel addicted to your phone, turn it off when driving or put it out of reach in the glove compartment, back seat, or trunk.
- Speak up if you are a passenger in a car with a distracted driver.
- Challenge your friends to pledge not to drive distracted. Share the pledge on social media.
Send distracted drivers a strong message
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver in Ohio, you immediately enter a legal conflict. Since the driver who caused the crash is unlikely to admit driving while distracted – an illegal activity – the case can come down to your word against theirs.
If your injury is serious, you may be out of work and unable to support your family as medical bills and other accident-related expenses pile up.
Adding to the stress is an insurance company pretending to help you out by offering what they claim is a fair financial settlement. A close look, however, will tell you that the offer is nowhere near the money you're legally allowed to recover for your current and future expenses. Still, you may be financially desperate and tempted to sign the offer anyway.
Don't gamble on your future. At Smith Law Office, our attorneys know how to turn the odds in your favor. Our legal team has more than 40 years of combined experience representing accident victims like you in Columbus and throughout Ohio.
Let us protect your rights and fight for every dollar you deserve. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.