If you text while driving in Ohio, you run the risk of receiving a ticket very soon. Or will you?
19 Action News has learned that adults can't be pulled over for it!
What the law requires, is that if you're behind the wheel you've got to put the phone down. Like the seat belt law, they can't pull you over for it alone, but make a move where you appear distracted and you will be stopped.
Experts say texting is the most dangerous distraction drivers do behind the wheel.
Ohio is the 39th state to ban texting and if busted, you'll be out $150.
Meantime, AAA is applauding the Ohio House for action to ban texting behind the wheel.
A bill to ban texting while driving statewide was agreed to by the Ohio House of Representatives this morning, 82-12. House Bill 99 makes texting behind the wheel illegal for motorists of all ages on a secondary enforcement basis. The offense can be cited only if another moving violation has occurred. The change from a primary enforcement provision for adults was one of two changes made in the Ohio Senate, which approved the bill, 25-8, on May 3.
The bill also makes it illegal for drivers under age 18 to use an electronic wireless communications device in any manner. For novice drivers this means they can be ticketed for texting while driving and for talking on a cell phone. No ticket may be issued for a violation of either prohibition for the first six months after the effective date of the bill.
"There is remarkable public support for the new law and AAA is encouraging motorists to comply with it to save lives," said Brian Newbacher, director of public affairs for AAA East Central. "We are hopeful that Gov. Kasich will recognize the importance of making Ohio the 39th state to ban texting behind the wheel."
In a recent survey of AAA members, 95 percent supported a law against texting while driving.
"Texting while driving is the most dangerous of all distractions behind the wheel," Newbacher said. A growing body of research confirms that taking your hands off the wheel, eyes off the road and mind off driving radically increases your chances of causing a crash. The average time spent looking away from the road while writing and sending a text is 4.6 seconds. This amount of time with eyes off the road clearly distinguishes texting as the most dangerous distraction.
Motorists violating the law after the six-month warning period would be subject to a fine of no more than $150. Teen drivers would be subject to license suspension for 60 days for a first offense.
A recent survey of the motoring public by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 35 percent of motorists of all ages admitted to text messaging while driving. Nearly half of drivers ages 18 to 24 admitted to text messaging while driving.
AAA announced in 2009 that it will work to pass laws banning text messaging by drivers in all 50 states, citing strong public support for the laws and the danger of distracted driving.
Currently 38 states and the District of Columbia have laws that address text messaging by all drivers. Ohio cities including Cleveland ban texting on a primary basis and those laws will take precedent due to Ohio's Home Rule laws. Studies have shown texting while driving to be an extremely dangerous distraction for drivers due to the extended time (an average of 4.6 seconds) spent not looking at the road.
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