Texting While Driving Ban Has Enforcement Issues

texting while driving

The new texting while driving (TWD) ban which recently went into effect in Ohio on March 1, 2013 as a violation for all drivers caught texting while driving in the state is aimed at tackling the problem of distracted driving and the car accidents caused by distracted driving.

However, many Ohio law enforcement officials fear the Texting While Driving ban as currently written poses serious problems of enforceability.

The law initially took effect Aug. 31, 2012, but officers were not permitted to issue tickets during a six-month “warning period.”   Currently, drivers older than 18 must be stopped for another criminal or traffic violation before they can be cited for Texting While Driving.  That makes TWD a secondary law for adult drivers.  Thirty nine states ban text messaging for all drivers.  An additional five states prohibit novice drivers from texting.  Only four of these 41 states require that a primary violation be committed first.

It is not clear how many warnings were actually issued during the six-month warning period in Ohio.  Apparently, there was no statewide tracking system.

For one thing, law enforcement officials point out it is not an easy job to identify the driver’s age and cell phone or texting activity when the vehicle is being driven down the highway at 65 mph.  As a rule, drivers stopped for another violation do not volunteer the information that they were texting.

It is also difficult in Ohio to prove a driver was sending a text message from a cell phone on his lap (or wherever the driver placed the device) unless the officer can prove this “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

In addition, some things involving a cell phone which are often done while driving are not expressly forbidden by Ohio law.  Sixty one percent of young drivers reported reading a text or an e-mail while driving, according to a 2012 AAA survey.  Another 26 percent reported checking social media or updating it while driving.

Several Ohio communities already have Texting While Driving laws that are tougher than state laws.  Fairview Park, Ohio has a TWD ban with a possible $500 fine for violators.  Cincinnati’s ban makes accessing the internet illegal if one is operating a vehicle at the same time.  In some states the offense of distracted driving is a misdemeanor.  Serial violators or drivers who have caused car accidents by their distracted behavior can face jail time.

Others are trying to contribute to the enforcement problem through technology.  There are Apps available, such as “Silent Driver,” launched in December 2012, which effectively shuts down a cell phone, blocking all incoming calls and texts when the driver is moving faster than 10 mph.  There are three “safe” numbers the App user can employ in a time of emergency.  Parents also have the capability of “password –protecting” this App and are notified if it is disabled.

An emergency doctor in Alaska developed “Silent Driver” after a 19-year-old girl, who was texting and driving, killed a man crossing the street in front of her and reportedly left the scene still texting “OMG, OMG…” (Oh my God). The accident happened in the Alaskan physician’s community.

Even imperfect legislation is considered a move toward progress in remedying the dilemma of distracted driving and there is an Ohio Texting While Driving law on the books.  If you or your loved one has been in an auto accident caused by a distracted driver, please contact the law firm of Slater & Zurz LLPYou can call them at 1-888-534-4850 or contact them through their website at slaterzurz.com.  They have convenient offices in Akron, Canton, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio.

Slater & Zurz has many experienced car accident attorneys and truck accident lawyers who can help you discover exactly what happened when an accident has occurred.  They know the laws that govern driving in Ohio and will initially review your case with no charge to you.  If you think you need legal help, it is important not to hesitate.