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New Law About Distracted Driving

Cost of fines increased

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New Law About Distracted Driving

Teenage driving accident yesterday in the LHS parking lot.

Teenage driving accident yesterday in the LHS parking lot.

Nate Weber

Teenage driving accident yesterday in the LHS parking lot.

Nate Weber

Nate Weber

Teenage driving accident yesterday in the LHS parking lot.

Morgan Orr, Community Editor

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A new law, House Bill 95, went into effect October 29th in an effort to deter distracted driving.  This means that teenagers and other drivers who are pulled over for a moving violation or in an accident could be charged up to $100 in addition to the original infraction.

Teenage drivers are involved in the highest percentage of auto accidents more than any other age group and the most common accidents occur from drivers being distracted while driving.    According to a press release from the Ohio Legislature, law enforcement officers no longer will need to prove a driver is texting, but only that a moving violation has occurred and the driver was distracted at the time.

Faith Rager who earned her driving license only weeks before the next law went into effect said the law is fair only if officials have evidence that the driver was truly distracted.  “If they have enough proof to fine you for being distracted, then you deserve the additional fine,” she said, “But proof is everything.”

The dangers of distracted driving are real and the statistics sobering.  According to the Center for Disease Control, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. In 2016, 2,433 teens in the United States ages 16–19 were killed and 292,742 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes. That means that six teens ages 16–19 died every day due to motor vehicle crashes and hundreds more were injured (cdc.gov).

Deputy Dixon, the Resource Office for Lancaster High school advises that students, especially new drivers protect themselves by taking it slow, taking time, and obeying driving laws.

“If you follow the laws, you should be safe,” he said.  “Wear your seat belt and pay attention.  Don’t text and drive.”

Anything that takes your attention away from driving can be a distraction. Sending a text message, talking on a cell phone, using a navigation system, and eating while driving are a few examples of distracted driving. Any of these distractions can endanger the driver and others. Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction. Sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for about five seconds, long enough to cover a football field while driving at 55 mph (cdc.gov).

According to the Teen Driver Source web page of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute,  75 percent of serious teen driver crashes are due to “critical errors,” with the three common errors accounting for nearly half of these crashes: lack of scanning that is needed to detect a

Distracted driving such as texting will now cost more money if ticketed.

nd respond to hazards, going too fast for road conditions, and being distracted by something inside or outside of the vehicle.

 

Here are some safe tips for new teenage drivers courtesy dmv.org:

1) Keep Your Cell Phone Off

Multiple studies indicate using a cell phone while driving is the equivalent of driving drunk―that’s even when using a hands-free phone.

2) Don’t Text

Research shows texting―on average―causes a loss of focus on the road for 4.6 seconds. A driver can drive the length of a full football field in that time. Don’t try the “texting-while-stopped” approach, either, as many states ban texting while behind the wheel. And, when you have your head down, you won’t notice key developments that may occur. Remember, you still need to pay attention to the road when you’re stopped.

3) Turn on Your Headlights

Using your headlights increases your visibility and help other drivers see you, even when you feel like it’s light out. In the early morning and early evening (dusk), you need to use your lights or other drivers might not see you, which can be disastrous.

4) Obey the Speed Limit

Speeding is a major contributor to fatal teen accidents. That’s especially true when driving on roads with lots of traffic or with which you’re not familiar. Don’t feel pressured to keep up with traffic if it seems like everyone else is flying by you. Driving a safe speed helps ensure your well-being, and keeps you away from costly traffic tickets that can cause a sharp hike in your auto insurance premiums.

5) Minimize Distractions 

It may be tempting to eat, drink, flip around the radio dial, or play music loudly while you’re cruising around town; however, all can cause your mind or vision to wander, even for a few seconds. As an inexperienced driver, you are more apt to lose control of your car. 

6) Drive Solo

Having a single teen passenger in your car can double the risk of causing a car accident. Adding additional teen passengers causes the risk to escalate.

7) Practice Defensive Driving

Always be aware of the traffic ahead, behind, and next to you, and have possible escape routes in mind. Stay at least one car length behind the car in front of you in slower speeds, and maintain a larger buffer zone with faster speeds. Some car insurance companies will even give you a discount if you take an approved defensive driving course to improve your driving skills.

8) Choose a Safe Car

If possible, drive a safe car with the latest safety equipment (such as anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, and air bags), and one with an excellent crash safety record.

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