Ohio’s New Texting Ban Goes Into Effect This Summer

Distracted driving poses hazards for everyone on Ohio's streets and highways, from pedestrians and bicyclists to drivers and passengers - and even the distracted driver. Common sense dictates our expectation that lawmakers will enact smart policies to curb behaviors that increase the risk of car crashes and truck accidents.

Gov. John Kasich's recent signature of House Bill 99 brings welcome attention to the perils of texting while driving. When the bill takes effect on August 30, Ohio will be the 39th state with a text messaging ban on the books.

The law provides that no person shall drive while using a handheld electronic wireless communications device to write, send or read text messages, emails or other communications. Texting behind the wheel is a primary offense for drivers under the age of 18, with a possible $300 fine and loss of driving privileges.

However, adult drivers cannot be pulled over solely on suspicion of driving while texting, a legislative concession that seriously weakens the ability of Ohio's new texting ban to reduce the threat of motor vehicle accidents. Some Ohio cities have passed stricter local bans, and those will not be alerted by the statewide texting ban.

For the first six months, law enforcement will only issue warnings to drivers. Nonetheless, one of the primary effects of any traffic law is to raise awareness of dangers, and HB 99 ensures that explaining text-messaging hazards will become part of Ohio's driver training curriculum.

Helping Injury Victims Hold Negligent Drivers Accountable

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving led to more than 3,000 traffic deaths in the U.S. in 2010. Nearly one in five motor vehicle accidents that cause injury result from distracted driving, and 416,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2010.

Text messaging bans and other measures may stem the tide of distracted driving accidents, but American culture seems increasingly dependent on digital connectivity. When drivers cause personal injury or wrongful death due to negligent and reckless habits, a car accident attorney can help injury victims explore their legal options.