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New ban is not leading to many tickets for texting and driving

Although in 2012 Ohio passed a ban on texting and driving, the new law, which went into effect in 2013, has not resulted in high numbers of citations. In Cleveland, as few as 12 drivers have been reported as receiving citations under the new law. Other major Ohio cities have seen similarly low numbers of citations--15 in Columbus and 32 in Cincinnati. Overall, only 230 citations have been reported across the state. By comparison, more than 23,000 people were ticketed for impaired driving and more than 360,000 drivers were cited for speeding--a rate of citation that is exponentially higher.

Nevertheless, more than 300 car accidents have been attributed to texting and driving. The apparent disconnect could be related to the nature of the ban, which makes texting and driving by adults only a secondary offense. This means that an officer who suspects an adult driver is texting while driving has to identify a separate infraction before stopping the driver. The officer then has to prove the driver was texting or emailing. Notably, almost 60 citations have been reportedly given out under Columbus's city ordinance, a local enforcement option allowing officers to stop drivers for suspected texting and driving infractions alone.

Distracted driving is an issue that reaches beyond texting and driving, however. Of 50 fatal distracted driving-related crashes in the state since the law went into effect, only six involved texting and driving. Moreover, studies have not entirely confirmed that texting while driving laws reduce the number of car accidents.

Even so, texting and driving is a major concern for Ohio drivers and the people they injure, and the number of related car accidents is on the rise. The key to dealing with distracted driving may notonly fall in enforcement of the new texting and driving ban, but also in driver education and in finding other ways to remind drivers that no one is impervious to the dangers of distracted driving.

Source: BucyrusTelegraphForum, "Few drivers ticketed for texting," Jesse Balmert, March 3, 2014

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