Tougher Distracted Driving Penalties in Ohio

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,142 people in 2020. Approximately nine people are killed every day because of a distracted driver. We can do better, people!

In response to the growing distracted driving problem, Ohio is enforcing new penalties for distracted drivers. Senate Bill 288 aims to keep Ohio drivers safer and less distracted by:

  • Designating the use of cell phones and other electronic communications devices while driving as a primary traffic offense for all drivers 

  • Allowing law enforcement to immediately pull over a distracted driver upon witnessing a violation

These distracted driving penalties are not new for juvenile drivers. What’s new is these distracted driving penalties now apply to all drivers. The hope is that more stringent penalties will result in fewer fatalities. In a January 3, 2023 press release, Governor DeWine said, “Other states with similar distracted driving laws have experienced fewer fatal crashes, and we expect that this enhanced distracted driving law will have the same impact here."   

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving happens when a task or device takes our attention away from driving. In our teen drivers ed course, we teach our students that cell phones, navigation systems, music, conversations, and eating can all be dangerous forms of distractions when we are behind the wheel. 

Texting and driving is an especially dangerous combo. Reading or typing a text keeps your eyes off the road for 5 seconds, which, if you’re driving 55 miles per hour, is like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. 

You are 23 times more likely to crash your vehicle if you are texting while driving. Wow. That’s a lot more times!

In a recent distracted driving research study we conducted, we found that: 

  • 8 in 10 respondents admitted to taking their eyes off the road while driving.

  • 68% of respondents said they used their phones while driving.

  • 92% of those that use their phones behind the wheel said that checking their phone gives them a rush of energy when they’re bored while driving.

  • 53% of those that use their phones say their smartphone has made them a more distracted driver

Be the Driver You Want Your Teen to Be

As the parent of a soon-to-be driver, it’s important to talk to your child about distracted driving and model the safe, defensive driving you want your teen to practice when they are in the driver’s seat. If this all sounds overwhelming, you can rest assured that our driving course will reinforce the distracted driving/defensive driving conversations you and your teen are having. 

We take your child’s safety very seriously, which is why we cover defensive driving and distracted driving so thoroughly in our teen driving course.

Defensive Driving Techniques to Prevent Distracted Driving

One of the best ways to keep you and everyone around you safe is to drive defensively. You have likely heard the phrase defensive driving, but may not know exactly what that looks like or how to talk to your teen about it. Let me refresh your memory.

Defensive driving techniques to practice and nag (I mean teach) your kids about:

  • Eliminate distractions when driving.

    • Keep cell phones out of reach. 

    • Minimize the number of passengers in the car. 

    • Avoid eating and drinking while driving. 

    • Set music and navigation systems when the vehicle is stopped.

  • Search, evaluate, and execute (SEE for short).

    • SEARCH the road for new information about road conditions, other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and traffic signs. 

    • EVALUATE what you see around you when you’re driving, and prepare for the worst-case scenario. (What happens if that car doesn’t stop at the stop sign? Is that cyclist going to see that I’m turning right?) 

    • EXECUTE on what you are seeing/predicting will happen. Slow down, check your blind spot, check your mirrors, and proceed with caution.

  • Take your safety into your own hands. The best way to avoid getting in an accident is to assume other drivers are going to make mistakes and drive accordingly. You can’t control other people’s driving behavior, but you can drive defensively and protect yourself. 

Want to raise a safe driver? Sign your teen up for Aceable Drivers Ed today!

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