New Ohio distracted driving law now in effect, fines increased

Updated: Oct. 30, 2018 at 5:03 PM EDT
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New Ohio distracted driving law in effect

A new law went into effect Oct. 29 and makes it easier for authorities to issue tickets to motorists for distracted driving -- not just texting. More details:

Posted by Cleveland 19 News on Tuesday, October 30, 2018

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - In 2017, 55 people died as a result of distracted driving in Ohio, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which is a reason the state’s legislatures decided to change its law through House Bill 95 recently.

On Oct. 29 a new distracted driving law went into effect in Ohio and fines for the offense increased to $100 after deadly statistics for accidents continue to climb all across the country.

When it comes to distracted driving, Ohio State Highway Patrol Sgt. Adam Doles of the Medina Post said he’s seen a lot.

“I would have to say shaving was the craziest I’ve seen,” said Doles.

The new law makes it easier for authorities to issue tickets to motorists for distracted driving -- not just texting. Scrolling through Facebook could get you a ticket just the same. House Bill 95 is a secondary offense, according to Doles.

[Related: Here are the Northeast Ohio communities that can pull you over just for using your phone]

The penalties for a distracted driving ticket has increased as well to $100.

Law enforcement is no longer required to prove a driver was texting at the time of an accident or violation. They only need to prove a driver was “distracted.”

The cost for the violation is now $100 or drivers may need to complete a distracted driving course.

Get more details about the course through the BMV.

People using their cellphones though, is probably the most common thing Doles said he sees.

“With so many GPS’s - people have GPS’s in their phone. People are looking down at that -- all these instant notifications from social media, phone calls -- no one wants to wait for anything anymore and sometimes driving happens to be what they are doing when they are doing those things,” said Doles.

House Bill 95 makes it easier for police to nab drivers for distracted driving.

“The new law that went into effect [Oct. 29] is a secondary offense. So, basically, if I stopped you for another offense -- whether that be driving left of center, marked lane violations, speeding -- if I see that you are doing something else that’s distracting you while you are driving, then that law would be in effect.”

Drivers will now face a fine of $100 on top of whatever other fines they face for the primary reason a police officer pulled you over. You could choose to take a distracted driving course to avoid paying the $100 fine.

Doles said the new law is good start to putting an end to the distracted driving that can have deadly results.

“I think people just being aware of the laws and being aware of these distracted behaviors may help the problem a whole lot more,” added Doles.

In 2017, 13,997 drivers in Ohio crashed while being distracted by something within their vehicles, according to O.D.O.T. Fifty one of these crashes were fatal, resulting in 55 total deaths. Another 4,668 drivers were in injury-causing crashes resulting in a total of 6,988 injuries, O.D.O.T. reports.

The number of reported distracted driving fatal crashes nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017 (96 percent).

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10 percent (3,196) of U.S. fatal crashes in 2015 were reported as distraction-affected.

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