Columbus Distracted Driving Accident Attorney
Distracted Driving & Texting While Driving Accidents in Ohio
Distracted driving is one of the biggest threats on our highways and roads. Every year, distracted driving claims thousands of American lives and leaves countless others dealing with severe, life-altering injuries. According to data from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, there have already been 5,694 distracted driving violations in the state in just the first five months of 2021. These alarming statistics reveal that, despite the known dangers of inattentive driving, motorists continue to engage in driving distractions, putting others at serious risk.
If you or someone you love was injured by someone who was texting while driving or was otherwise distracted behind the wheel, you could have grounds for a personal injury claim—and Ross, Midian & Breitmayer, LLC can help. Our Columbus distracted driving accident attorneys bring personalized attention and a hands-on approach to every case. We have extensive trial experience and are ready to fight for you and your recovery.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
While most people recognize the dangers of driving while intoxicated, few realize that distracted driving poses similar risks. In fact, distracted driving is among the leading causes of traffic accidents and fatalities in the United States, and some studies have shown it to be as dangerous—if not more dangerous—than drunk driving.
According to End Distracted Driving, an organization dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and preventing distracted driving in the U.S.:
- Distracted driving accounted for 7% of all fatal crashes in the U.S. in 2019
- Distracted driving-related fatalities increased by nearly 10% from 2018 to 2019
- Approximately 1 in 5 people killed in distracted driving accidents were not in motor vehicles
- More than 58% of teen driver crashes are caused by distracted driving
- About 9% of teens killed in traffic accidents died in distracted driving-related crashes
Perhaps most alarming of all, End Distracted Driving notes that more than 84% of motorists in the U.S. reported finding cell phone-related distracted driving “unacceptable,” yet 36% of those same motorists admitted to texting and/or emailing while driving in the past month.
What Is Considered “Distracted” Driving?
While we typically think of texting while driving when we hear the phrase “distracted driving,” using a cell phone behind the wheel is not the only form of inattentive driving. There are numerous types of driving distractions; essentially, anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the task of driving is a driving distraction.
Driving distractions are divided into the following four categories:
- Auditory Distractions: Auditory distractions are any noises that cause the driver to lose focus on the road. Examples include loud music, conversations with passengers, a cell phone ringing, kids in the backseat, and more.
- Cognitive Distractions: A cognitive distraction is one that takes the driver’s attention away from the task of driving, even if he or she is looking at the road and has his or her hands on the wheel. Examples include daydreaming, thinking about a message/conversation, and highway hypnosis.
- Manual Distractions: Manual distractions are things that cause the driver to remove one or both hands from the steering wheel, such as adjusting temperature/radio controls, eating and/or drinking, and reaching for something that has fallen to the floor.
- Visual Distractions: A visual distraction is anything that takes the driver’s eyes off the road, even for a second. Some common examples include looking at a cell phone to read a text message or scroll through social media, rubbernecking, and looking at a GPS/navigational device.
Many activities combine multiple types of driving distractions. For example, texting while driving is a combination of a manual distraction (holding the cell phone), visual distraction (reading the screen), and cognitive distraction (thinking about the contents of the message). Talking to a passenger in the vehicle may combine visual and cognitive distractions (looking at the passenger and thinking about the conversation), adjusting the radio or a GPS system may involve both manual and visual distraction (inputting a destination and looking at the navigational device), etc.
When traveling at even relatively low speeds, looking away from the road for even a few seconds is the same as driving considerable distances with one’s eyes closed. At 55 miles per hour, looking away for even 5 seconds means you will drive the length of a full football field without looking at the road.
Ohio Distracted Driving Laws
Like other states, Ohio has specific laws pertaining to distracted driving. These laws generally prohibit texting while driving and other cell phone/handheld device use behind the wheel. However, the state recognizes that all forms of distracted driving are dangerous, and drivers have a responsibility to refrain from operating a motor vehicle while their attention is on anything other than the road.
In Ohio, it is illegal to:
- Read, write, or send a text message while operating a motor vehicle
- Read, write, or send any text-based communication, including social media posts
- Use headphones/headsets while driving a motor vehicle
- Talk on a handheld cell phone or device while driving if under the age of 18
- Talk on a handheld cell phone/device in certain cities
Additionally, motorists can be cited for other types of distracted driving, such as eating or driving with a pet on their lap, if they break another law. For example, if a person runs a stop sign and is also applying makeup while driving, they can be cited for both infractions.
What to Do If You Are Hit by a Distracted Driver
If you are involved in a car accident or are hit while walking or cycling by someone who is texting while driving or is otherwise distracted, there are certain steps you should take to protect yourself and your rights:
- Seek Medical Attention: First, seek immediate medical attention. This may involve calling 911 or going to the nearest emergency room. If your injuries are not life-threatening and/or do not require immediate emergency attention, you should still go to an urgent care center or see a doctor as soon as possible. Some injuries may take hours, days, or even weeks to appear; always see a medical professional after any motor vehicle accident.
- Exchange Information: Next, if possible, try to get the name, contact information, and insurance information of the distracted driver. If the driver flees the scene, try to take note of the make, model, and color of the vehicle, as well as the license plate or portion of the license plate. Talk to any witnesses who saw what happened and get their name(s) and contact information.
- Document the Scene: At the scene, remain calm. When exchanging information with the other driver, avoid admitting fault (including apologizing) or assigning blame. Remember, only an official investigation can determine exactly what happened. You should also contact local law enforcement and have them come out to the scene of the accident. In Ohio, law enforcement must come to the scene of an accident when there has been an injury or fatality, and you must report all traffic accidents that result in bodily injury, death, or property damage valued at over $1,000.
- Document Your Losses: You should also take pictures of the accident scene right away, as well as your injuries and any property damage you suffer, including damage to your vehicle, bicycle, and other personal belongings. If you are unable to take pictures, write down the details of the accident as soon as you can. You should also preserve any evidence and avoid having your property repaired (if possible) until an investigation is completed.
- Avoid Talking to the Other Party’s Insurance Company: After the accident, you may be contacted by the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Adjusters may call you or even come to your house/the hospital. It is in your best interests to avoid speaking to any adjusters from the distracted driver’s insurance company and do NOT accept any settlement offers without speaking to a lawyer. These insurance adjusters are there to pay as little as possible, and once you accept a settlement, you will almost certainly lose your right to file a lawsuit—even if you continue suffering unexpected damages.
- Contact a Lawyer: One of the best things you can do after a distracted driving accident is contact an attorney who knows how to handle these types of claims. Your attorney can help protect your rights and handle the details of your claim while you focus on your physical recovery. At Ross, Midian & Breitmayer, LLC, we are well-versed in Ohio’s distracted driving laws and know how to fight back against insurance companies’ attempts to undervalue and deny rightful claims.
Schedule a Free Consultation Today
Being involved in any motor vehicle accident is a frightening experience. Knowing the person who caused the crash was negligent can leave you feeling angry, confused, and unsure of how to proceed.
At Ross, Midian & Breitmayer, LLC, our Columbus distracted driving accident attorneys are here to guide you through the process and fight for the maximum recovery you are owed. We handle every claim with care and attention to detail, developing personalized legal strategies aimed at securing the best possible outcomes for our clients.
We offer free initial consultations and contingency fees, meaning you do not owe anything unless we recover compensation for you. Call (614) 450-2223 today to get started.
Distracted Driving FAQs
What is distracted driving?
Distracted driving is any conduct that removes a driver’s attention from the task of driving. This includes visual distractions, manual distractions, cognitive distractions, and auditory distractions, such as texting, looking at social media, eating, drinking, adjusting controls, using GPS/navigational devices, looking at billboards and accidents along the roadway, attending to pets/children, talking to passengers, and more.
Besides cell phones, what else can cause a driver to get distracted?
Cell phones are one of the most common driving distractions, but they are far from the only one. Other common driving distractions include children, pets, passengers, GPS systems, temperature controls, radios/music, social media, email, food, grooming, items along the roadway, accidents, and much more.
How can I prevent distracted driving?
While you cannot stop others from driving while distracted, there are many things you can do to keep yourself safe and free of distractions behind the wheel. First and foremost, put your cell phone on silent or turn it off altogether. If you frequently find yourself tempted to respond to texts or scroll social media (even at red lights or stop signs), put your cell phone somewhere you can’t reach it, such as the backseat or trunk of your car. If you must make a call or respond to a text while driving, use a hands-free device or Bluetooth system. Be aware, however, that the best way to remain distraction-free is to simply wait to talk on the phone or read/send texts until you have arrived at your destination. You can avoid other distractions by refraining from engaging in them. For example, do not eat or drink behind the wheel and keep your eyes and attention focused on the road at all times. When you have passengers, including children and pets, in your car, continue to drive defensively and avoid distractions. Ensure children are properly seated in the backseat (in car seats/boosters if necessary) and provide them with toys, games, etc. Keep pets in the backseat and make sure they are properly and safely secured (leashed, in a crate, etc.)
Is using your cell phone while driving legal in Ohio?
The state of Ohio has banned texting while driving—which includes reading, writing, or sending any form of text-based communication on a handheld device or cell phone—but it has not banned general cell phone use behind the wheel. Drivers over the age of 18 are permitted to use a handheld cell phone or device to make and receive calls while driving (except in certain cities) but doing so can be very dangerous. For your safety, you should always wait to talk on the phone or text and, if you simply cannot wait, use a Bluetooth system or other hands-free device.
Bus Passenger Accident $300,000
The client was a passenger on a bus, which ran off the road into a ditch causing two compression fractures in his low back (non-surgical).
Motor Vehicle Accident $250,000 Policy Limits
Client was involved in head on collision which required extraction.
Motor Vehicle Accident $250,000 Policy Limits
Client was struck by vehicle that ran a stop sign. Multiple fractures.
Motor Vehicle Accident $200,000
Multiple-impact, rear-end collision resulting in multiple disc herniations.
Motor Vehicle Accident $185,000
Client was struck by vehicle that ran a stop sign.
Motor Vehicle Accident $185,000
Client was struck by vehicle that ran stop sign and rolled Jeep. Client walked away but subsequently developed shoulder injuries.
Motorcycle Crash $150,000
Defendant came across three lanes of traffic and struck client who was on his motorcycle. Client suffered substantial “road rash” and a knee injury (non-surgical).
Motor Vehicle Accident $100,000 Policy Limits
Client was rear-ended causing low back injury requiring fusion surgery.
T-Bone Accident $90,000
The defendant failed to stop at a red light and T-boned the client on the passenger side of her vehicle.
Motor Vehicle Accident $90,000
Client was struck by vehicle that ran a stop sign, causing a concussion, vertigo, right ankle injury, and right wrist injury.
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