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Bans on phone use while driving in Ohio: Is the law getting smart?

Drivers distracted by digital devices cause many car accidents, including numerous fatal car accidents. It could hardly be otherwise when a driver loses focus while trying to control a moving vehicle that weighs over a ton.

This is why Ohio and 45 other states ban texting while driving for all drivers. But what about cellphones? Should use of those devices also be banned while driving?

State laws and local ordinances

Fourteen states have banned hand-held cellphone use behind the wheel. Ohio is not one of those states. But local governments in Ohio are free to enact their own restrictions and many communities have done so.

In the Cleveland area, for example, several suburbs have bans on using handheld devices behind the wheel. The city of Cleveland is considering joining them. Zack Reed, an outspoken member of the city council has been advocating this for some time.

Safety advocates point out that even using hands-free devices while driving involves dangerous distraction. As a result, the National Transportation Safety Board recommends that states ban not only texting while driving, but all cellphone use while driving - except for emergencies.

Primary or secondary offense

Of course, a ban on texting or even on all device use behind the wheel isn't a magic bullet. The effectiveness of a ban in preventing accidents depends a lot on how it is worded and how it is enforced.

Regarding the wording of the law, a violation of prohibitions on device use while driving can be made a primary offense or a secondary offense. For a primary offense, law enforcement officers are authorized to pull someone and issue a ticket if they have evidence that an offense has occurred. But for a secondary offense, officers are allowed to take action only if they have probable cause of some other offense.

In Ohio, a ban on cellphone use by novice drivers (under 18) is a primary offense. But the statewide texting ban is only a secondary offense. In Cleveland, city councilman Zack Reed has proposed making hand-held cellphone use while driving a primary offense.

How you respond to your situation

We realize that if you are reading this post, it may very well be because you have been injured in a serious accident caused by distracted driving. Or you may know someone who was in such an accident.

You may be wondering about how the legal process works and what your options are for seeking compensation. In such cases, it is important to get skilled legal counsel.

At Keis George, we offer a free initial consultation where you can discuss your specific case after an accident caused by improper digital device use while driving.

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