Driver inattention is the leading cause of car accidents, and for teens texting has been shown to be the number one driver distraction.
While a teen is texting, he or she spends about 10 percent of that time outside his or her driving lane – so if a teen spends 10 minutes texting during a typical drive, one minute of that time could be spent in the oncoming lane of traffic.
In the five seconds that it takes the average teen to answer a text, a car can travel the length of a football field. And the distraction of talking on a cell phone reduces a teen’s reaction time to that of a 70 year old.
In 2009, 995 of traffic fatalities involved cell phone use as did 24,000 of injuries. Of the fatalities involving teens 16-19, 21 percent were the result of cell phone use. These numbers are expected to grow by 4 percent each year.
In an effort to reverse this trend, Ohio lawmakers have passed legislation that makes texting while driving illegal throughout the state. For anyone under the age of 18, it is illegal to use any mobile communications device while driving – this includes talking on the phone, texting, emailing, gaming, using iPads/tablets, or handheld GPS devices, even while sitting at a traffic light or in a traffic jam.
While driving and texting is illegal for all drivers, for drivers under the age of 18, it is a primary offense which means that it’s the only reason that police need to pull you over. The first violation is a $150 fine and 60-day license suspension and a second offense results in a $300 fine and possible one year license suspension. The law went into effect on Aug. 31, with a six month warning period. Enforcement will begin around March 1.
In an effort to get the word out, the Sylvania Community Action Team distributed 3,000 bookmarks explaining the new law to students at Northview and Southview high schools. A “Stay Alive! Don’t TXT & Drive” magnet will also be available at the SCAT booth at the Sylvania Business Expo on Saturday, March 23 at Tam-O-Shanter.
So, don’t lose your license or your life. Keep your hands on the wheel and off the phone – because now it’s not just smart, it’s the law.