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Do Hands-Free Devices Distract Drivers?

Driver with wireless earphones having a distracting conversation

Ohio Upgrades Anti-Distracted Driving Law But Does Not Address Hands-Free Device Risks

Distracted driving has become a major problem in the Tri-State area and on U.S. roadways everywhere. A lack of driver focus contributes to thousands of severe and fatal car accidents every year.

In 2020, more than 3,000 individuals died due to distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That indicates that 8 percent of all fatal car accidents that year involved a driver who was not paying attention to the road.

As a law firm that's been fighting for the injured for 70 years, Recht Law Offices has seen an increase in distracted driving and the terrible pain it causes victims and families. We favor almost anything that reduces the risks posed by unfocused motorists, including Ohio's upgraded hand-held device law. We also believe knowledge is a powerful tool for prevention. By sharing information about the distracting nature of many hands-free apps and devices, we hope to encourage more drivers to focus on the road.

If you were injured in Ohio or the surrounding Tri-State area, contact Recht Law Offices for a free case evaluation to learn more about your legal options.

Hands-free distraction

One of the biggest distractions is texting or using hand-held devices like smartphones. Lawmakers passed anti-texting and hand-held phone bans to reduce crashes, but most allow drivers to use hands-free applications behind the wheel.

However, a new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) distracted driving study says that using hands-free apps may not be a safe enough alternative to hand-held devices. Hands-free apps may be a significant contributor to distracted driving car accidents.

"Hands-free operation is generally believed to be less dangerous since drivers can more easily keep their eyes on the road," said IIHS lead researcher Aimee Cox. "However, it doesn't eliminate the distraction altogether."

They may not seem like distractions, but hands-free devices pull significant focus from the road. Although the driver can mostly keep their hands on the wheel, using hands-free technology shifts attention (cognitive function) away from driving. Visual cues that require the driver's response are also common in hands-free tech and apps. This, of course, takes a motorist's eyes off the road.

New Ohio distracted-driving law

Distracted driving is a hot topic in Ohio. Since 2018, the state has experienced more than 1,770 fatal and injury-causing severe accidents, according to Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP).

According to Ohio's Data Dashboard, the most dangerous roads for distracted driving accidents include IR-75. IR-71, US-42, and US-20.

The state is looking for ways to reduce distracted driving. A new bill that will make it easier for police to pull over distracted drivers was approved in January. However, while the new law will likely prevent some crashes, it does not address what distracts people.

In Ohio, a driver is permitted to use their device in certain situations, such as when their vehicle is parked or stopped at a red light. In addition, drivers are allowed to do things like swipe their phones to answer calls and to hold their phones close to their ears while talking. Additionally, you are always allowed to make emergency calls.

Starting around April, when "Bill 288" goes into effect, using a hand-held device in an unpermitted way while driving will be upgraded from a secondary traffic violation to a primary one. In general, police cannot stop drivers for secondary traffic violations unless a primary violation is also suspected.

Since 2018, OSHP has issued nearly 40,000 distracted driving violations.

Legal help is available for crash victims.

Accidents involving distracted drivers are almost always avoidable. When people choose to drive distracted and cause a bad car accident, they are at fault and must be held accountable to crash victims.

Victims may be entitled to compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and other losses. However, the victim must prove that the at-fault driver was negligent to get maximum compensation. If you don't have an Ohio car accident lawyer with experience who is tech-savvy and knows how to get the right evidence, proving your case can be an uphill battle.

Recht Law Offices is up for the challenge. Our distracted driving lawyers have handled many cases involving drivers who weren't paying attention. We know what it takes to succeed in Ohio car accident claims. If you were injured or a loved one died in a distracted driving accident or another type of Ohio crash, contact us for a free case evaluation.

Our dedicated team of distracted driving accident lawyers at Recht Law Firm can help you every step of the way. Our knowledgeable attorneys serve clients in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Contact us to schedule your free case evaluation today.

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