According to Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) statistics, “distracted driving” was a variable in 4.56% of crashes in Ohio in 2019. What counts as distracted driving? Perhaps it’s a parent reaching back to soothe a baby; maybe it’s a teen responding to a text with one hand while steering with the other. The bottom line is that the driver’s attention was focused away from the task of driving, resulting in a crash.
Ohio uses a standardized crash report form (called the OH-1 report) that allows law enforcement to note whether “driver distraction” was a variable in a particular crash. This is, of course, helpful if you’re injured as a result of the negligence of a distracted driver. Even if the crash report doesn’t specifically note distracted driving as a factor in a crash, an attorney can assist you in gathering evidence that a distracted driver caused your accident. There are several things that can act as proof of distracted driving, including:
- The distracted driver admits fault.
- Witnesses to the accident provide statements. Witnesses might include bystanders, passengers or police officers.
- Cell phone records that give details of text messages, app usage or calls at the time of the accident.
- Photo or video captured by surveillance or even bystander or passenger cameras.
How can you limit common distractions while driving? Here are some tips:
- Limit cell phone use while in your vehicle – turn it off or use auto-reply texts, if absolutely necessary
- Adjust audio and climate controls only when the vehicle is at a complete stop. Alternately, ask a passenger for assistance in making these adjustments
- Make sure children are properly buckled in or fastened in the proper car seats
- Make sure you have planned time for other tasks (like eating meals and makeup application) either before or after your trip
- Limit audio / conversation volume so you can better perceive your surroundings
- Make your family, friends and / or employer aware of your desire to drive with minimal distractions
- Secure pets
By limiting distractions while driving, you will not only protect your interests in the event of an accident, but you will also be better able to defend against other distracted drivers on the road.