Ohio State Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville) introduced a bill Monday that would let police pull over people who are using their phones or electronic devices while operating a vehicle.
Currently, police can’t pull over people they see using their phones because it is a secondary offense. However, this bill would change that to a primary offense which would allow law enforcement to pull people over for distracted driving.
“The number of drivers I see using their smartphones while driving continues to concern me, especially as they tend to drive erratically. This legislation will address the significant danger caused by drivers who drive under the influence of their electronic devices,” Rep. Lightbody said in a statement.
Lightbody said constituent Sharon Montgomery approached her about this issue after Montgomery was in a “tragic” accident caused by distracted driving. Montgomery served on Governor Mike DeWine’s recent Task Force on Distracted Driving after becoming an expert on this topic.
“More and more drivers are focused on electronic devices instead of traffic and vehicle operation, which puts us all at risk,” Montgomery said. “Representative Lightbody’s legislation will reduce that risk, and I am relieved that with her leadership, Ohio would join 37 other states that filed bills to make their roads safer by outlawing handheld devices.”
The Ohio Distracted Driving Task Force estimated that 14,000 distracted driving crashes occurred in 2017. These crashes resulted in 58 deaths, 493 serious injuries and 7,000 statewide injuries. According to the task force, distracted driving crashes are underreported because they are difficult to prove unless a cop sees it.
Last month, DeWine came out in support of tougher laws for distracted driving.
“Cellphones turn a lot of people into stupid drivers,” DeWine said, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “We need a culture change around distracted driving. It must be as culturally unacceptable as drunk driving.”
– – –
Zachery Schmidt is the digital editor of Star News Digital Media. If you have any tips, email Zachery at [email protected]