Insights on Insurance
Soon, Ohio will become the 39th state to have TWD laws in place. In case you were wondering, TWD stands for Texting While Driving, a major contributor to distracted driving. Six out of ten teens admit to texting while driving – a rather scary statistic! The new Ohio law will take effect 90 days after Gov. Kasich signs the bill, then a 6-month ‘hold’ on ticketing, which carries a $150 fine. The violation will likely affect your insurance rates as well.
The specifics of the new law include a full ban on use of handheld electronic communications devices by drivers under the age of 18. Enforcement for teens does carry Primary Enforcement, with fines up to $300 and possible loss of license. For adults, the law calls for a Secondary Provision which means that police need another reason to stop and cite violators, such as weaving or speeding. Police will have to make an on-site determination if a driver appears to be under the age of 18 before making a stop. Ohio’s General Assembly may not be done with its debates over distracted driving. Similar laws passed in other states typically inspire bills calling for more Primary Enforcement. Further, the new measure does not address cell phone use by adults, unless they are using the device to text.
It is most interesting to note that according to the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), studies that compare collision frequency in states that have TWD laws before the legislation and after show no reduction in the numbers of collisions. HLDI compared claims in four states both before and after the enactment of each TWD law. Their researchers calculated rates of collision claims for vehicles as old as 9 years during the months immediately before and after driver texting was banned in California (January 2009), Louisiana (July 2008), Minnesota (August 2008), and Washington (January 2008). Comparable data were collected in nearby states where texting laws weren't substantially changed during the time span of the study. This controlled for possible changes in collision claim rates unrelated to the bans--changes in the number of miles driven because of the economy, seasonal changes in driving patterns, and so on.
These statistics may call into question the way policymakers are trying to address the problem of distracted driving crashes. They may be focusing on a single manifestation of distracted driving and banning it. Doing so ignores the endless sources of distraction, such as eating, shaving, applying makeup, etc., and relies on banning one source or another to solve the whole problem.
Chairman, Euclid Chamber of Commerce Trustee, Euclid Public Library owner, Nationwide Insurance Agency