Do you ever find yourself distracted while driving? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), just five distracted seconds of driving at a speed of 55 miles per hour is equivalent to driving an entire length of a football field with your eyes shut. The most common form of distracted driving is using a cell phone when behind the wheel, specifically to send or read a text message.
Driving and texting results in you taking your eyes off the road to look at the screen of your phone, your hand off the wheel to type, and your mind off of driving. Therefore, you’re visually, manually, and cognitively distracted. It goes without saying that the consequences can be disastrous.
To promote universal safety on the road, a new law went into effect on April 4, 2023. This law is intended to lower the frequency with which drivers are distracted. As such, the law states certain prohibitions. Under this new law, a driver is permitted to use their device in limited circumstances, including when the vehicle is parked or stopped at a red light. Additionally, drivers can swipe their phones to answer a call and hold their phones to their ears during a phone conversation while driving. Of course, emergency phone calls are also allowed.
This new law, Senate Bill 288, does offer drivers a transition period to familiarize themselves with the change. With the law now in effect starting April 4th, law enforcement will issue warnings to drivers found violating the law for six months. Following this six-month grace period, law enforcement will have the authority to issue citations. These citations come with penalties that include a fine of up to $150 for a driver’s first offense, as well as two points on their license unless a distracted driving safety course is completed. If the driver is a repeat offender, penalties can increase.
To help spread the word about Senate Bill 288, Comstor Outdoor has partnered with the Bellefontaine Police Department to create a marketing campaign, placing a digital reminder for all drivers in Logan County. Further, the Ohio Department of Transportation will utilize digital billboards to educate and protect those on the road.
Recently, the NHTSA shared that a leading cause of vehicle crashes in the United States is attributed to texting while driving. A survey by AAA revealed that nearly all drivers (96 percent) believe texting or emailing while driving is dangerous and threatens their safety; still, 39 percent of those individuals surveyed admitted to reading a text or email while driving in the last month, and another 29 percent admitted to typing a text or email while driving.
Studies show that using a phone to send a text while driving can have the exact same effect on your reaction time as drinking four beers in an hour and then getting behind the wheel. Simply put, texting and driving can be just as lethal as drinking and driving. Known as the “hangover effect,” it can take up to 27 seconds for your eyes to recover and reorient to the road following a mental distraction (i.e. texting while driving). The hangover effect can even occur if drivers wait to use their phones at traffic lights and stop signs.
For your safety and the safety of others, keep your eyes on the road—it’s the law!