Distracted Driving Still Taking A Toll On Ohio Roadways

Distracted driving can be deadly. Numerous studies have been performed by some of the most prestigious research institutions in the country stressing the dangers associated with any number of activities behind the wheel, everything from eating and drinking to texting and emailing.

In addition, businesses like cellphone carriers (including AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon, with their "Texting & Driving, It Can Wait" campaign) and government agencies (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's "Distraction.Gov" site and the National Safety Council's "Distracted Driving Awareness Month" campaign) have all proactively tried to educate the nation about the importance of focused, attentive driving.

The state of Ohio has made their own efforts to curb the dangerous practice of distracted driving by banning texting while driving and passing a law that prohibits any novice driver (those with temporary licenses who are under the age of 18) from using a handheld or hands-free cellphone while driving. Nevertheless, distracted driving persists not only on the roads of the Buckeye State, but across the country. According to NHTSA data, there are more than 420,000 distracted driving-related injuries on America's roadways each year; sadly, more than 3,300 of those injured die as a result.

Understanding Distraction

Many people overestimate their ability to multi-task behind the wheel. They may figure that sending a text message is so easy when they aren't driving that they will have no problem doing it on the road. Yes, sending a text message seems like a relatively simple process, but it actually takes an enormous amount of dexterity and concentration to make it happen. While sending a text, you encounter three separate levels of distraction:

  • Visual - your eyes need to look at the screen to ensure that your words are appearing correctly and to see the keys while you type
  • Manual - your hands need to be on the phone, and your fingers are occupied
  • Cognitive - your brain hones in on the words being typed or read, to the exclusion of other stimuli

Among these, the cognitive distraction is the most severe. Essentially, your brain is so focused on the message you are composing - particularly if it is part of a conversation and you are both formulating your responses and typing them in - that it "tunes out" other things.

If you are sitting on the couch sending a text, that's no big deal. You may miss the score on the screen, but that's about it. However, if your brain doesn't process a sudden stop in front of you, or your vehicle drifts over the center line, you can be killed or can kill others. This is one reason why studies have shown that hands-free texting and email technologies are no safer than hand-held ones; the cognitive distraction is still there, so you are keeping your hands on the wheel, but your brain still isn't paying close enough attention to your surroundings to keep you safe.

Finding Help If You Have Been Injured

If you have been involved in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you have many things to think about. Why couldn't he just have waited to send that text? How long will it take me to recover? Will I be able to pay my medical bills? When can I return to work? Thankfully, in this situation, you have legal options to hold the driver accountable for his (or her) actions. Speak with an Ohio personal injury attorney to learn more.

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