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Review Ohio’s distracted driving laws

Distracted driving is a serious problem in Ohio. According to the state’s Department of Transportation, devices and other distractions cause an annual average of nearly 14,000 crashes, 500 injuries and 50 fatalities.

Review the Ohio laws about driving distractions to help prevent serious auto accident injury.

Prohibited actions for drivers

Ohio’s distracted driving law, passed by the state in 2012, bans texting on a handheld device behind the wheel. This law applies even when the driver has stopped at a red light. However, talking on the phone without a hands-free device remains legal except for drivers younger than 18.

Drivers can also receive a ticket if they break a law or drive erratically while performing another distracting action, like eating, grooming or otherwise multitasking. Drivers may not use a headset or headphones while operating the vehicle.

Distracted driving is a secondary offense in Ohio except for drivers younger than 18. That means that an adult motorist must also commit another offense to receive a distracted driving ticket.

Exceptions to the rule

Ohio drivers ages 18 and older may use hands-free technology to send texts. All drivers can legally operate hands-free GPS devices for navigation. Underage drivers can make a handheld cell phone call only to report an emergency.

Many Ohio municipalities have established their own distracted driving laws that ban the use of hands-free devices or otherwise strengthened the state’s distracted driving laws. When planning Ohio travel, drivers should stay safe and avoid accidents by limiting device use and eliminating other distractions. Take time to have a meal, get directions and send important messages before the drive starts.

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