Cracking down on distracted driving in Ohio

New legislation – the Hands-Free Ohio Bill – seeks to ban handheld electronic devices while driving.

Not seeing a motorcycle in traffic, or miscalculating its speed, has been a problem for years. It has gotten worse with more vehicles on the road and hosts of electronics that grab drivers’ attention.

“Distracted driving hurts and kills innocent people. It devastates families,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, an ardent supporter of the bill.

What will be prohibited while driving?

Under the proposed bill, motorists would be prohibited from activities like watching videos, taking pictures or videos, texting, talking, dialing and typing addresses into mapping apps. An exception to the rule would be dialing 9-1-1.

Drivers would be allowed to use hands-free technology and to perform the actions while stopped and/or out of traffic lanes.

While texting and driving is illegal in Ohio, it is a secondary offense for adults. Police cannot pull over an offending party unless another violation is observed. (Texting while driving is a primary offense for minors.)

Penalties for violators

Under the proposed bill, violators would face mandatory fines starting at $150. In instances where somebody is seriously injured or killed, drivers would face an aggravated vehicular assault charge.

DeWine remarked that traffic deaths have increased five out of the last six years. Early data shows that at least 1,157 people were killed on Ohio roads in 2019.

Are you in favor of the Hands-Free Ohio Bill? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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