It is no secret that distracted driving can result in car accidents, injuries and even fatalities. A person’s focus can be diverted from the street for any number of reasons. Fiddling with the radio, eating a burger and fries, applying makeup: there are so many ways that a driver’s concentration can be broken. In fact, the Highway Patrol has disclosed that, over the last three years, 31,231 crashes in Ohio were due to driver inattention. We only have to take our eyes off the road for a few seconds for a tragedy to occur, so eliminating these distractions is of utmost importance.

In recent times, texting while driving has become one of the most common forms of driver distraction, and it is especially prominent among teens. To address this widespread problem, the General Assembly recently passed House Bill 99, and Governor Kasich signed the legislation into law in early June. This bill institutes a secondary traffic offense for texting while driving. Particularly, operating a car while writing or sending a text-based communication on a handheld communications device now will be prohibited.

House Bill 99 garnered bipartisan support in both chambers of the state legislature. Issues of public safety do not appeal to one party or the other. We can all agree that texting while driving presents a serious threat to the wellbeing of all drivers and pedestrians alike. In addition, the legislation also received support from AAA, the National Safety Council and a number of law enforcement officials and school groups.

Recognizing that teens represent the highest risk group for this activity, House Bill 99 stipulates that any driver under 18 years old will receive a $150 fine and a 60-day license suspension for the first violation and a $300 fine and one-year license suspension for any additional violations. The new law does not apply to a few specific situations, including emergency and navigational use, as well as use by a person who drives a public safety vehicle and whose duties require the use of such a device.

Once all of these provisions have been officially enacted, Ohio will be the 39th state in the union to prohibit texting while driving. I am extremely pleased that our state has taken this important step to make our roads safer, and we can all breathe easier knowing that House Bill 99 is now on the books.


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