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Distracted driving is believed to play a role in about 15 percent of injury-causing crashes and 10 percent of fatal crashes nationally, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Although distracted driving is generally associated with texting and other cell phone use, the behavior includes anything that impedes a driver’s attention. According to the End Distracted Driving campaign, there are three primary forms of distracted driving:
- Manual: Phone use, eating or other tasks that require a driver to take a hand or hands off the wheel
- Visual: Anything that causes a driver to focus his or her eyes away from the path of travel
- Cognitive: Anything that causes a driver’s attention to focus on something other than the act of driving
Texting while behind the wheel is considered especially dangerous because it involves all three forms of distraction.
Distracted Driving Risks
Distracted driving is something that every driver is guilty of at one time or another. Whether it’s trying to break up a fight between kids in the backseat, eating on the go, or watching a car accident on the other side of the highway, everyone has taken their eyes off the road at some point. As cell phones become “smarter,” more people are also using cell phones to navigate their drives, to entertain them with music, or to check their email while waiting for a traffic light.
Some of this may seem innocuous, but the sheer number of accidents, injuries and fatalities caused by distracted driving proves otherwise. When you are manually, visually or cognitively distracted, you can:
- Slow your reaction time
- Double your risk of getting into an accident (quadruple if you are using a hand-held device)
- Put your own life and the lives of others at risk
- Experience “inattentional blindness,” in which you are focused on one object in your perceptual field and something else that you didn’t expect appears in front of you
Most states—including Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana—have adopted laws regarding cell phone use and texting in an effort to reduce distracted driving accidents.
Ohio Distracted Driving Laws
As of March 2013, all Ohio drivers are banned from texting, and “novice” drivers are not allowed to use cell phones behind the wheel.
Texting and driving is considered a secondary offense, which means there has to be another traffic violation present before you can be ticketed. Drivers with temporary licenses or those under the age of 18 are prohibited from all cell phone use.
If caught using a cell phone behind the wheel (even “hands-free”), individuals under 18 will have their driver’s license suspended for 60 days and be fined $150. Adults with temporary licenses who are caught using a phone will be fined $150.
Kentucky Distracted Driving Laws
Since January 2011, Kentucky has issued tickets for distracted driving.
Unlike Ohio, Kentucky considers texting while driving to be a primary offense. This means cops can pull you over if they see you texting while driving.
Kentucky law also states that drivers 18 and under, as well as bus drivers, cannot operate a vehicle while using a cell phone. There is a minimum $25 fine for distracted driving.
Indiana Distracted Driving Laws
As of July 2011, it is illegal for all drivers to compose, read or send a text message while driving in Indiana.
Novice drivers (those 21 and under) are not allowed to use any electronic device while behind the wheel. Texting and driving is considered a primary offense in Indiana, and fines range up to $500.
Experienced Legal Help for Cincinnati-Area Injury Victims
If you or a loved one was hurt in a car accident in Ohio, Kentucky or Indiana that you believe may have been caused by a distracted driver, it’s a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney.
The Cincinnati-based attorneys at Young, Reverman & Mazzei understand the complexities of distracted driving laws in the tri-state area, and we have extensive experience representing accident victims from Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Our lawyers offer free consultations, and we don’t get paid unless we recover compensation on your behalf.
Call us today at 513-721-1200 or contact us online to learn how we can help you. We are proud to represent clients from the greater Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, areas as well as Campbell, Kenton and Boone counties in Kentucky and Dearborn County in Indiana.
Please visit our Locations page for a full list of our offices and directions.