DeWine seeks to prohibit use of holding cell phones while driving

Last updated: 02-12-2021

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DeWine seeks to prohibit use of holding cell phones while driving

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DeWine seeks to prohibit use of holding cell phones while driving
"Ohio's current laws don't go far enough to change the culture around distracted driving, and people are dying because of it," DeWine said.
20 hrs 51 mins ago
By Robert McFerren
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With limited exceptions, the Hands-Free Ohio provisions announced in Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's budget proposal will make driving while handling any electronic wireless device a primary offense for adult drivers and will increase fines for drivers who continue to use devices while driving.
The governor said in cases where a driver using a device causes serious injury or death, the penalties will mirror those of drunken driving. 
DeWine announced Monday, Feb. 8, that he is seeking to improve the safety of Ohio's roads by including provisions in his Executive Budget proposal that strengthen Ohio's distracted driving laws. 
Currently, using a hand-held electronic wireless device for any purpose is a primary offense for drivers under 18, and using a device for text-based communications while driving is a secondary offense for adults.
The current enforcement prohibits law enforcement officers from stopping an adult driver using a wireless device to write, send, or read text-based communications unless the driver also commits a primary traffic offense, such as running a red light.
There are no laws in Ohio prohibiting adults from driving while using wireless devices for other non-texting activities, including watching or recording videos, taking or viewing photos, using apps, entering information into GPS navigation programs, or dialing a phone number. 
"Ohio's current laws don't go far enough to change the culture around distracted driving, and people are dying because of it," DeWine said.
“When you take your eyes off the road - even for just a few seconds – the consequences can be devastating,” said Col. Richard S. Fambro, Ohio State Highway Patrol superintendent.
Provisional data from the Ohio State Highway Patrol shows that 2020 was the deadliest year on Ohio's roads in more than a decade, with 1,236 people killed in traffic crashes.
More than 100,000 distracted driving crashes have occurred in Ohio since 2013 resulting in more than 53,000 injuries.
Governor DeWine's Hands-Free Ohio provisions would prohibit several actions while driving, including:
writing, sending, or reading text-based communications
watching or recording videos
taking photos or looking at images
live streaming
entering information into GPS navigation programs
dialing phone numbers
holding a device for a phone call
The Hands-Free Ohio provision calls for a six-month warning period in which law enforcement would issue warnings instead of citations as part of an educational campaign to spread awareness about the strengthened laws. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) would also install road signs to alert drivers from other states to Ohio's regulations. 
Ohio, Nebraska, Missouri, and Montana are the only states without primary enforcement laws for adult drivers using wireless devices. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, several states experienced significant decreases in traffic deaths within two years after passing and enforcing laws similar to Governor DeWine's Hands-Free Ohio proposal.
Exemptions outlined in the provisions include using hand-held wireless devices for emergency calls, while in a stationary vehicle outside of the lane of traffic, in hands-free mode to talk on the phone, dictate text-based messages, or listen to received messages; in circumstances where an action can be accomplished with only a single swipe; in public safety or utility professions, as necessary for duties; or if the wireless feature is a permanent part of the vehicle. GPS devices would be permitted for navigation if destinations are entered before driving begins and if the device is not held.
 


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