In Ohio, novice drivers are banned from all cell phone use behind the wheel. More experienced drivers, however, are not legally held to such a high standard: while all drivers are legally prohibited from texting in Ohio, they may use a cell phone to talk. Furthermore, while the ban for novice drivers is a primary offense, the texting prohibition for all other drivers is only a secondary offense, meaning that a police officer cannot pull a driver over for texting unless the officer witnesses some other moving violation that warrants a stop. The current fine for a texting ticket in Ohio is approximately $150.
Not ever a stronger law against texting behind the wheel could prevent every texting and driving accident, but given the seriousness of the problem, some Ohio officials are looking for creative ways to encourage drivers to focus on the road. One upcoming initiative from the Ohio Department of Transportation includes the addition of "safe phone zones" near major highways and bridges.
Signage campaigns have already shown some success at cutting distracted driving
The new campaign would consist primarily of a series of roadside signs and advertisements encouraging drivers to stop at designated safe phone zones at rest areas rather than resorting to a behind the wheel text.
"Hopefully motorists will take into consideration their personal responsibility to the safety of themselves and others," Steve Faulkner, ODOT's press secretary, told The BG News.
A similar campaign began in New York last month, with nearly 300 signs telling drivers "It can wait" and displaying the distance to the next rest area installed along miles of freeway. The New York State Department of Transportation has already attested to successful results, saying the signs appear to be a good reminder to drivers that a text is not worth risking a crash.
In addition to discouraging motorists from texting, ODOT says the signs could also be a source of revenue. State officials are currently negotiating with auto insurance companies to pay for advertising on the new signs.
Get in touch with an Ohio attorney if you have been a victim of a distracted driver
According to ODOT statistics, last year, distracted drivers were responsible for causing at least 400 accidents that resulted in injury. Distracted drivers also caused 16 fatalities on Ohio roads in 2012.
The new signage campaign will not stop all distracted drivers, but hopefully it can prevent a few crashes, and the serious consequences that result for accident victims and their families.
If you were injured by a distracted driver, or if a family member was killed, you may be entitled to compensation from the at-fault driver or his or her insurer. This compensation can help pay for things like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Get in touch with an Ohio texting and driving accident attorney to learn how you may be able to collect compensation from those responsible for a crash.