Ohio looks to crack down on distracted driving
New legislation – the Hands-Free Ohio Bill – seeks to ban handheld electronic devices while driving.
“Distracted driving hurts and kills innocent people. It devastates families,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, an ardent supporter of the bill.
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.
Though texting while driving is illegal in Ohio, it is a secondary offense for adults. Police cannot pull over an offending motorist unless another violation is observed. (Texting while driving is a primary offense for minors.)
Under the proposed bill, violators would face mandatory fines starting at $150. Drivers would face an aggravated vehicular assault charge in instances where somebody is seriously injured or killed.
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.
Distracted drivers, according to the Ohio Distracted Driving Task Force, exhibit similar behaviors to drunk drivers including slow reaction times, erratic speeds, weaving and sudden braking.
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