When is texting and driving a major crime in Ohio?
To answer the question in the title directly, no. Texting and driving are not a major offense in Ohio. This does not mean that drivers in Buckeye state can text and drive with impunity. Also, the descent of texting and driving to a secondary crime does not mean drivers cannot be held responsible for accidents, injuries or deaths while being distracted by sending or reading text messages.
What the law says from 2020
In 2012 Ohio law made it illegal for drivers to use “a portable electronic wireless communication device to write, send, or read a text-based communication” while their car or truck was in motion. Exceptions apply, but the law known as section 4511.204 of the Ohio Revised Code has been tightened over the years.
However, one of the recent updates made it clear that police officers and state forces can’t stop a driver and issue a ticket just for text messaging. Any indication of the use of a handheld device in a moving vehicle must be made after stopping on suspicion of another suspected violation of movement such as speeding, not following the right of way or crossing a lane.
A driver quoted for text messaging while driving in Ohio can take several defensive measures. The law contains exceptions for things like dialing, using a smartphone app to get directions, reporting a crash or other emergency situation.
Why the SMS and driving law is still important
Passing a law banning texting and driving can reduce the rate of distracted trips. Driver distraction is a major cause of accidents. Studies have shown that the distraction only takes three seconds to create the conditions for a collision.
Writing, sending and reading text messages hits the trifecta of driver distraction. Every action distracts the driver’s eyes and thoughts from the road. At the same time, the driver’s hands are released from the steering wheel. At freeway speeds or in city traffic, it can quickly become a fatal situation if you break away from driving and do not maintain control of your own vehicle.
So when Columbus texted while driving, it was sad, but not surprising, when the Governors Highway Safety Association reported that the number of pedestrian deaths in the US had reached a 30-year high in 2019, according to GHSA quoted: “Lots of unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding, distracted and drowsy driving [which] Pose risks to pedestrians. “
Sending text messages while driving is far from the only dangerous behavior that drivers exhibit. However, an increase in accidents in which pedestrians were hospitalized or dead coincided with the increase in smartphone use since 2010. Few things could be easier than taking your smartphone out of reach or turning it off during a typically short drive to work, school or business. If the phone needs to be left on, hands-free options are plentiful, and the talk-to-text apps have improved dramatically.
If you need a lawyer in or around Columbus to help you after being injured by a text message driver, the best thing to do is to contact Corey Heit at Heit Law. Corey, based in Westerville, advises and represents clients throughout Franklin County. You can schedule a free online consultation or speak to Corey at (614) 898-5300.