Every state has laws to keep drivers, occupants, pedestrians, and others on the roadways safe. Ohio is no different. The state has strict regulations on behind-the-wheel behaviors, seatbelt and car seat use, texting and driving, and more.
Ohio’s Traffic Rules and Regulations
As stated, each state must enact and oversee its traffic laws, but the penalties may differ. For example, it is illegal to enter an intersection when facing a red light in all 50 states. However, the consequences for doing so might include fines that vary widely.
You’ll find Ohio’s general traffic laws under Ohio Revised Code Section 4511. Some of the most common causes of auto accidents are violations of this section. It outlines lawmakers’ expectations for drivers’ behavior behind the wheel and their obligations to keep others sharing the road safely.
Mistakes and moments of carelessness do occur, and they often lead to traffic law violations. Therefore, you and your attorney may need to identify the laws broken under this section if you pursue compensation against a negligent driver.
Ohio Has Graduated Licensing
Over the past 25 years, more states have adopted graduated licensing for young drivers – and Ohio is no different. Under current Ohio law, young people can get their learner’s permit at 15 years, six months old. However, they must have at least six months of experience behind the wheel and pass written and skills tests to get an intermediate license.
A teenager can get their intermediate driver’s license at age 16 in Ohio, assuming they meet the necessary qualifications. With an intermediate license, they can:
- Drive alone or with immediate family members from 6 a.m. until midnight
- Have one passenger outside of their immediate family
After one year of driving experience and reaching age 17, the driver could have more than one passenger not related to them in the vehicle. Night time restrictions decrease at age 17 and are lifted at age 18 if they have two years of experience behind the wheel.
There Is No Universal Hands-Free Law in Ohio
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), almost half of all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban handheld cell phone use for drivers. In addition, all but two states ban texting while driving. While Ohio does not have a universal hands-free law, it does have statutes that ban texting behind the wheel, with very few exceptions.
Ohio prohibits handheld cell phone usage for any reason for drivers under age 18 or others with a learner’s permit or intermediate license. This statute is a primary law, meaning that law enforcement officers can stop drivers if observed with a phone in their hand.
Mandatory Seatbelt Usage and Secondary Enforcement
Nearly every state has a seatbelt law requiring vehicle occupants to wear a safety belt. However, while Ohio is one of 49 states with such a law on the books, it is one of only nine states where the rule applies only to drivers and front-seat passengers and falls under secondary enforcement.
This means that only those in the front seat of a passenger vehicle must wear a seatbelt, and police officers cannot stop a car if the only apparent violation involves not wearing the belt.
Requiring Young Children in Car or Booster Seat
Ohio’s seatbelt law does not apply to young children. Instead, different laws require parents to take these steps to protect them in the event of an accident:
- Riding in an approved child restraint safety seat under the age of 3 or under 40 pounds
- Being in a booster seat between the ages of 4 and 7 or when more than 40 pounds but under 57 inches, which is 4 feet, 9 inches tall
These rules fall within the regulations for most child safety seats. However, parents also should follow any additional recommendations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), their pediatrician, and local resources.
Ohio law does not establish where children must ride in vehicles, but it is generally accepted that young children and those of small stature are safer in the back seat away from airbags.
What Should I Do If I Was in a Crash Caused By Another Driver?
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in an accident caused by someone violating one of Ohio’s driving safety laws, you could hold them liable and recover damages. The Fitch Law Firm LLC car accident legal team can speak with you about your options for free. We provide complimentary initial consultations for victims.
Our main office is in Columbus, with additional locations in Dayton, Marion, and Springfield. Call (614) 545-3930 today to get started.