Columbus Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer
Data from the Ohio Department of Public Safety (DPS) show that handheld cell phone use has been declining in the state for well over a decade. Even so, the problem of distracted driving has not gone away and remains a very real danger for thousands of Ohioans. In 2017, according to DPS, 13,997 drivers crashed due to distraction, resulting in 55 deaths and 6,988 injuries. Shockingly, the number of fatal distracted driving crashes almost doubled from 2016 to 2017.
At the Oliver Law Office, we focus on helping car crash injury victims and the family members of those hurt and killed in vehicular accidents get justice and compensation from the careless or negligent drivers who caused the crash by failing to devote proper attention to the road. If this has happened to you, our dedicated personal injury and wrongful death attorneys will step in and take over every aspect of handling your case from start to finish, helping you get the financial support you need and deserve while you focus on taking care of yourself and your family. Learn more about distracted driving below, and contact our experienced Columbus distracted driving accident lawyer for a free consultation if you need help after a crash.
Distracted Driving Is More Than Just Texting
Distracted driving is defined as driving while also engaged in another activity that diverts one’s attention from driving. Distractions can be classified as visual (distractions that take the driver’s eyes off the road), manual (distractions that take the driver’s hands off the wheel), or cognitive (distractions that take the driver’s mind off the task of driving). Some activities, such as texting while driving, can involve all three classes of distraction and be especially dangerous. Yet while people often equate distracted driving with texting while driving, many other activities can be dangerous in their own right. DPS data from 2017 showed that the biggest distraction category leading to accidents was “Other Inside the Vehicle,” which accounted for 58% of all distracted drivers and 49% of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes. In contrast, the categories of “Phone” and “Texting/Emailing” accounted for 25% of all distracted drivers involved in crashes and 39% of distracted drivers in fatal crashes. This does show that distracted driving is more dangerous and more often fatal than other types of distractions, although all forms of distracted driving can and do end in crashes causing catastrophic injury or wrongful death.
Dangerous distracted driving behaviors include, for example:
- Reviewing notes for an upcoming presentation on the way to school or a business meeting
- Checking your hair in the sun visor vanity mirror
- Eating and drinking
- Applying makeup
- Rehearsing a speech
- Getting too involved in a conversation with passengers
- Talking on the phone (even hands-free)
We get used to driving and think we are capable of multi-tasking, but driving is so potentially dangerous that one should never put other tasks ahead of the vital jobs of paying attention to the road and staying in control of the vehicle at all times.
Ohio Texting and Driving Laws
Ohio law bans texting while driving. Specifically, it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle “on any street, highway, or property open to the public for vehicular traffic while using a handheld electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication.”
This basic ban, however, also contains a long list of exceptions when it might be lawful to text or use other handheld features of the phone while driving. For example:
- It is lawful to hold the phone to make an emergency call to the police, fire department, a hospital or health care provider
- Texting is okay if the car is stationary and outside the lane of travel. This does not include sitting in traffic waiting for the light to change.
- A driver can hold the phone to read, select, or enter a name or telephone number in order to make or receive a telephone call.
- It’s okay to receive messages and alerts related to navigation, safety, traffic, weather or emergencies.
- It is lawful to use the device for navigation.
- One can hold the phone to activate, deactivate, or initiate the device or a feature or function of the device.
- Commercial truck drivers can hold their phones while using a mobile data terminal that transmits and receives data.
- It is legal to use the phone in conjunction with a voice-operated or hands-free feature.
Drivers under 18 years old, however, are banned from all “electronic wireless communication device” usage while driving, whether handheld or hands-free.
Texting while driving is a “secondary offense” in Ohio, meaning drivers can’t be pulled over on suspicion of texting while driving. Instead, if they are pulled over for some other reason, such as a moving violation, expired tag, or suspected drinking and driving, then they can also be cited for violating the hands-free law. Violation is a misdemeanor offense, meaning the person could be fined and sentenced to up to a year in county jail.
Columbus Bans Texting and Driving & Other Smartphone Features While Driving
Texting while driving has been illegal in Ohio since 2013, but texting while driving was banned in Columbus several years before this state law went into effect. Drivers in Columbus can be pulled over for alleged violations of the law, making it a primary offense in Columbus. In addition to composing, sending or reading a text message, the Columbus city ordinance also prohibits sending, reading, creating, playing or interacting with “internet-based content.” This provision also appears to outlaw accessing apps, checking or posting to social media, watching videos, and the countless other features and functions of a smartphone. Like the Ohio law, the Columbus ordinance allows “using a mobile communication device to report a health or safety emergency” and to use the device when the vehicle is parked and “removed from the flow of traffic.”
Contact the Oliver Law Office Today
If you believe distracted driving is the cause of an accident that injured you or a family member, the recognized distracted driving attorney Jami S. Oliver and her team at the Oliver Law Office can help you get full and fair compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of income, and all the other damages the accident has inflicted on you. Call our experienced Columbus distracted driving car accident lawyer today to discuss your needs and how we can help.