A new bill that is expected to gain bipartisan support would make it a primary offense for Ohioans to hold their cell phones while driving.
“Most of the state’s that have added a primary offense for distracted driving have seen a 20% decrease in crash fatalities two years after passage of a hands-free law,” state Rep. Brian Lampton (R-District 73) said.
Lampton is heading up the efforts to write and pass HB 223, along with Rep. Cindy Abrams (R-District 29).
A primary offense is one that allows police to pull a motorist over.
“Distracted driving crashes continue to aggressively trend upward, but go largely underreported due to the difficulty in proving a driver is engaged in distracted driving activity,” Abrams said. “With support from both sides of the aisle, House Bill 283 will truly save lives by making Ohio a Hands-Free state.”
The bill already has bipartisan support from lawmakers, and Lampton says it also has support from the “governor’s office, law enforcement groups, the road construction industry, and insurance companies, and safety groups.”
StopDistractions.org head Jennifer Smith has endorsed the legislation.
“It’s time for Ohio to join the other hands-free states so we can change the culture of distracted driving,” she said. “We use [phones] for too much and too many of us do this while driving.”
A poll conducted by Fix Our Roads Ohio found that the bill has support from motorists, too, 88 percent of whom said they would follow the law if passed.
Ohio already has a law against texting and driving, but there are exceptions for dialing phone numbers and using navigation systems.
The current law also makes texting and driving a secondary offense, which means that it cannot be the sole reason a motorist is pulled over.
The new bill is currently in the hearing stage in the House Criminal Justice Committee, and its co-sponsors are reportedly optimistic that it will be passed and signed into law during the legislature’s fall session.
– – –