The Ohio Legislature recently passed a bill that would ban statewide texting while driving. Governor John Kasich signed the bill into law on June 1. The legislation received overwhelmingly support from the legislature passing on an 82-12 House vote and with a similar margin in the Senate.
Kasich said that the new law would reduce the number of people killed in distracted driving auto accidents. He also stated the new ban is "a good law that was needed in our state."
Details of the Texting Ban
The new measure makes texting with a cellphone or any handheld device while driving a secondary offense for adults. As a secondary offence, police cannot stop an adult driver solely for violating the texting ban. An officer must spot a driver commit another offense such as running a red light or speeding before pulling over a vehicle for a texting violation.
However, for teen drivers, the law is stricter. The new ban makes texting while driving a primary offense for teen drivers. Officers can pull over vehicles if they observe a teenage driver texting. Teens will only be able to use their phones in cases of emergency.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 38 states ban texting while driving. In addition, 31 states prohibit teens or new drivers from using the cellphone while driving, even with hands-free devices.
State law enforcement supported the legislation but wanted the texting ban to be a primary offense for all drivers. The President of Ohio's Fraternal Order of Police stated, "You're asking a law enforcement officer to determine at 30 mph whether someone is under 18 or not, so that's a challenge." But he added that being tougher on teens is a good first step, as teens are the most at-risk drivers.
Source: Hudson HubTimes.com, "Ohio Gov. John Kasich signs texting while driving ban into law," Marc Kovac, June 1, 2012.