By: Michael L. Wright
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Town Hopes To Decrease Ohio Distracted Driving Accidents With New Cell Phone Law
Ohio Distracted Driving Accidents Involve Texting, Talking On The Phone And Sending E-mails, According To The Ohio State Highway Patrol.
In an effort to curb Ohio distracted driving accidents and save lives, the city of Bexley passed a law that bans all cellphone use while driving. The Central Ohio city’s new measure makes all cellphone use, including talking or texting, a primary offense. Effective October 14, police can cite any drivers who they see holding a cellphone while behind the wheel. Bexley City Council’s action was motivated by its Police Chief Larry Rinehart who said the city had a problem with distracted driving, which resulted in a roll-over crash in one instance, and something needed to be done.
Distracted driving is not just a problem in the city of Bexley, but statewide. The Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) reported that the number of Ohio distracted driving accidents increased 11 percent from 2014 to 2015. Last year, Ohio distracted driving accounted for 13,261 crashes statewide, and of that total, 39 crashes ended in fatalities. According to the OSHP, texting, talking, and sending emails were the distractions for 24 percent of all Ohio distracted drivers. However, these were distractions for 41 percent of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2015, up from 31 percent in 2014.
Distracted driving is anything that could take a driver’s attention away from the main task of driving, according to Distraction.gov., the official U.S. government website for distracted driving. Distractions can include:
• Eating and drinking
• Talking to passengers
• Reading, including maps
• Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
• Using a navigation system
Texting is the “most alarming distraction,” because it requires “visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver,” Distraction.gov says.
Ohio distracted driving is not a primary offense in the state, as it is in the city of Bexley. Texting while driving is a secondary offense in Ohio which means police can only stop drivers for a primary offense such as speeding, but not solely for texting while driving. Ohio state legislators, however, hope to change this through House Bill 88 which would boost texting while driving from a secondary offense to a primary offense. Currently, texting while driving is only a primary offense for drivers under 18. Another House bill would increase the fine of a distracted driving offense. If House Bill 86 passes, drivers will have to pay a $100 fine for the first distracted driving offense and a $300 fine for subsequent offenses. Ohio Senate Bill 146 adds a $100 penalty to moving violation offenses involving distracted driving. The bill passed and is currently pending in the House Judiciary Committee.
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