The number of teenagers who use cellphones while driving has skyrocketed in recent years, both in Ohio and nationwide. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the rate of drivers ages 16 to 24 who visibly manipulated handheld devices doubled between 2010 and 2014.
While distracted driving includes anything a person can engage in while driving that makes them distracted — like fiddling with GPS instructions, eating, or putting on makeup — texting is particularly dangerous because it involves all three major points of distraction. It’s visually distracting by taking your eyes off the road, manually distracting by taking your hand off the wheel, and mentally distracting by taking your mind off the important task at hand: safely getting to your destination. When looking at a phone for just five seconds while behind the wheel, you can travel the length of a football field at 55 mph.
For teenagers, it can be difficult to live even a few seconds without a smartphone. But limiting distractions can do everything to actually ensure they have a life.
This post will review what parents need to know about local distracted driving statistics for teens, Ohio laws against texting and driving, and how to keep kids safe on the road.
The Problem with Distracted Driving
Driving a car and using a cellphone at the same time may seem like a good way to multitask, but when you attempt both, your brain is unable to do either well. According to the National Safety Council, there is no safe way to use a cellphone and drive. Even on a hands-free device, drivers may miss up to half of what’s on the road due to being engaged in a phone conversation.
Of common distractions while operating a vehicle, here is how likely you may be involved in a crash, per the National Safety Council:
- Reading increases your risk 3.4 times;
- Reaching for a moving object or turning around in your seat increases your risk 8.8 times;
- Talking on your cellphone increases your risk 4 times;
- Texting can increase your risk of crashing up to 23 times.
About 10% of all drivers at any given time are talking on a cellphone while driving. That figure is much larger for the teen population. According to AAA, nearly 70% of teens admitted to talking on a cellphone while driving in the past 30 days, while 50% in this age group have read a text or email while driving in that timeframe. Ninety-four percent of teenagers keep their cellphones on while driving and 80% of teens don’t think their distracted driving puts them at risk.
Luckily, cellphone use is something that is definitive — meaning there’s something we can do about keeping both adults and teenagers safe.
Ohio Distracted Driving Statistics
Since 2013, Ohio police officers have been required to provide more specific information on distractions involved in crashes, including whether it was by being on a phone call or texting. Texting-while-driving crashes still may be underreported, however, as police officers might be more likely to code a violation to something proven, such as speeding. According to the Ohio Department of Education, the number of fatal distracted driving cases nearly doubled between 2016 and 2017. This is a serious issue.
That said, using a cellphone while driving can lead to other traffic violations which can result in crashes, like blowing past a stop sign or driving well over the speed limit. In 2015, more than 13,000 drivers in Ohio were involved in distracted-driving crashes, resulting in 43 deaths and 6,916 injuries. About 1 in 4 distracted drivers overall were distracted by their phones, but for 41% of those involved in fatal crashes, this technology was to blame.
Here are a few other local facts about distracted driving in Ohio from the Ohio Strategic Highway Safety Plan:
- Nearly 60% of distracted/fatigued driving deaths and serious injuries involved roadway departure while 36% involved a young driver (age 15-25);
- Those ages 16 to 20 had the highest amount of distracted/fatigued driving deaths and serious injuries, with those ages 21 to 25 following;
- Men are more likely to get into distracted-driving crashes, with those ages 16 to 20 accounting for the most deaths and serious injuries;
- Most distracted-driving deaths and serious injuries occur during the summer, though overall the time of day matters. More crashes occur from 2-5 p.m. with distracted-driving deaths spiking at 1 p.m. and again at 2 a.m.;
- The most deaths and injuries occurred when people were driving between 55 and 65 mph (59%), with the next-highest at speed limits between 35 and 44 mph (18%).
Ohio Distracted Driving Laws
It’s important to know that talking on a cellphone is banned in more than a dozen states, but nearly every state in the U.S. bans texting while driving. Under Ohio law, all “electronic wireless communications device” use for drivers under the age of 18 is illegal, including texting and even hands-free talking.
For drivers over 18, the laws about texting while driving changed at the end of 2018. Texting while driving is still considered a secondary offense — meaning that you can’t be pulled over for it unless you are committing some other traffic violation simultaneously. Now however, if an officer deems that a person was “distracted” while driving, that person could receive a $100 ticket on top of any other fines issued due to the primary reason for being pulled over. Instead of paying the fine, an individual may opt to take a “distracted driving” course instead.
It would be good to think twice about texting while driving at any age, but teens in Ohio can face some severe consequences. If you are convicted of texting and driving as a teenager, your license can be suspended for 60 days and you can be fined $150. If it’s your second offense, your suspension can last a year and the fine doubles.
Keeping Teens Safe from Distracted Driving
Because cellphone use is so dangerous for teenagers while driving, it’s important to talk to your kids about ways they can stay safe on the road. Have an open and honest conversation. Of course, encouraging them to leave their phone in the glovebox, backseat, or trunk while driving is one thing, but actually getting them to follow through on smart safety rules is another. So, how do you keep them safe?
It’s surprisingly easier to do this in the age of smartphones compared to when phones were just used for texting or calling. New apps are available for parents to keep their children from texting and driving, varying from ones that report texting to parents to apps that completely disable it.
Here are just a few that we’ve found that you may be able to use for peace of mind the next time your teen is hitting the road:
TextDrive: TextDrive’s auto-responder runs in the background of your phone to reply to calls and texts while driving, in a meeting, or sleeping.
DriveSafe: This app uses your phone’s accelerometer, GPS, and rear-camera to monitor and score your driving behavior. A complete driver evaluation is available in real time and recorded.
Live2Txt: Block incoming texts and calls while driving or in class or a meeting with Live2Txt. Custom messages will be sent alerting the sender that you can’t respond. This is more selective and would be at the hands of the driver to enable.
TextLimit: TextLimit allows a phone to be geo-located at any time through the app’s website, providing a history of where the driver has been. You can choose the speed at which cellphone features are disabled.
DriveSafe.ly: This app reads text messages aloud in real time and automatically responds using custom messages.
LifeSaver: This app lets parents know when their teen has arrived at their destination safely. A Driver Portal online records the amount of drives completed, safe drive time, and phone unlocks while driving.
Although some may see using these sort of apps as spying on a child’s activities, setting conditions for cellphone use before your child even has one can help communicate your expectations. Talk with your teen before installing the apps to let them know why this is happening — it’s not because you don’t trust them, but simply about being safe and limiting the urge to check a text or email once those distracting chimes are heard.
Contact Plevin & Gallucci in a Distracted Driving Crash
No one wants to see their loved one hurt in any type of crash, but particularly one in which distracted driving could have been prevented. If you or your teenager have been injured in a motor vehicle collision, Plevin & Gallucci may be able to help. Our experienced Cleveland personal injury attorneys have assisted crash victims for nearly six decades.
If someone else’s negligence caused your injuries or the death of a loved one, you shouldn’t have to bear the cost. Contact us today for a free consultation.