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Ohio Bill Would Make Texting While Driving A Primary Offense

texting behind the wheel

Columbus car accident lawyers explain what the change would mean for drivers in Ohio

Distracted driving is a major cause of car accidents. An average of nine people a day are killed by distracted driving in the United States, according to data from the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA). Texting is one of the most common forms of distracted driving, and one of the most dangerous.

Texting and driving is currently against the law in Ohio. But for drivers over the age of 18, it’s a secondary offense – a police officer can issue a citation for texting while driving, but only if the driver was pulled over for a primary offense (such as speeding).

A bill pending in the Ohio Legislature would change that.

HB 283 would make texting while driving a primary offense and allow police to pull over drivers who are seen holding a cellphone or electronic device.

The dangers of using a cellphone while driving

The Automobile Association of America (AAA) supports the bill, noting that the state’s law on distracted driving passed a decade ago needs to be updated as technology has advanced.

“Looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles your risk of crashing and when you're looking at your phone, you're looking away for a whole lot longer than that,” said Kimberly Schwind, spokesperson for AAA.

Cathy and Doug Richeson have been fighting for changes in the state’s distracted driving laws since their son Nathan was struck and killed by a distracted driver in 2014.

Cathy Richeson said changes to distracted driving laws are a way to honor their son, who was a captain in the Air National Guard.

“That's why we are doing what we're doing,” she said, “so that another person, hopefully not one more person has to drive behind a hearse bringing their son back to a funeral home.”

The House Criminal Justice Committee heard the bill on Feb. 15.

Driving is a task that requires the full attention of a driver at all times. Any activity not related to driving can be a distraction. Aside from texting, examples include talking on the phone, talking to passengers, eating or drinking, using a GPS, and setting dashboard controls.

In 2019, car accidents involving distracted drivers killed 3,142 people, according to the NHTSA.

Talk to a car accident attorney in Columbus today

Distracted drivers whose actions result in the injury or death of others need to be held accountable. But recovering financial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and expenses related to the death of a loved one can be complicated.

One reason is that distracted drivers often deny doing anything wrong and refuse to accept responsibility for what happened. Another reason is that insurance companies have a vested interest in paying crash victims as little as possible. If you were hurt in a car accident, they may question the seriousness of your injuries. They may even blame you for the crash.

Insurance companies have lawyers looking out for their best interests. That's why you need a car accident attorney who will fight for you. Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC has a long track record of significant victories through negotiated settlements and jury verdicts.

Let us hold the at-fault driver responsible and fight for the compensation you deserve. If you or a loved one has been hurt in Columbus, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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Columbus, OH

Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC
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Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: (614) 587-8423