“It is very dangerous, I will be honest,” Shear said.
As the law stands right now, police are allowed to stop drivers ages 17 and younger from texting while driving, but adults must commit another traffic violation first before being pulled over.
Now, two Ohio lawmakers are trying to change that.
“We all see it every day driving on the highway. Grown adults doing this … instead of looking at the road,” said state Rep. Brian Lampton of Beavercreek, R-73rd.
Lampton and Rep. Cindy Abrams of Harrison, R-29th, a former police officer, have been working on Ohio House Bill 283, which would:
- Make using a handheld phone a primary offense for adults
- Establish a $150 fine or a distracted driving course for violators on the first offense, $250 for the second offense and $500 for the third offense within two years
- Allow for hands-free phone use
- Require law enforcement to report the race of those ticketed
“This distracted driving is the No. 1 concern of Ohio drivers right now; the No. 1 concern,” said Abrams.
The bill is expected to gain approval in the House, but its passage in the Senate is in question.
Senate President Matt Huffman said the current laws already address bad driving and that he’s not a fan of giving police more reasons to stop people.
Cleveland resident Robert Sanders said, “You think it’ll make the roads safer? No, I don’t. I think they need to be focusing on other things besides that.”
Abrams added, “If you go down and take a distracted driving course in person or online, your points on the driver’s license and the fee is waived. So what we’re trying to do here is we’re trying to change the culture.”
The Ohio State Highway Patrol says since 2013, there have been 100,000 distracted driving crashes, resulting in thousands of injuries and more than 300 deaths.
The bill will be discussed during a criminal justice committee hearing on Tuesday and possibly voted out of the House Wednesday, then passed to the Senate.
Governor Mike DeWine, who has repeatedly called for stronger laws, is expected to sign the bill into law once it reaches his desk. If it doesn’t get approval in both chambers by the end of the year, it will have to be re-introduced during the next legislative session.