Every time we take a seat behind the steering wheel, we accept great responsibility. We hold not only our safety, but the safety of others, in our hands. The physics of machines weighing more than a thousand pounds traveling past each other at speeds of at least 55 miles per hour puts into perspective the amount of damage that can be done, especially to human life.

With that picture in mind, think about how dangerous distracted driving can be. As drivers, we are the operators of powerful machines, a task that requires our complete and undivided attention. We surely would not be comforted by the thought of a distracted airline pilot or cruise ship captain.

Unfortunately, thousands of drivers all across the country fall short in their responsibility to keep the roadways safe because they engage in distracted driving. The most common offense, or at least the one that has received the most attention, is texting.

The state legislature has taken a step to make Ohio’s roadways safer by passing House Bill 99: the texting while driving ban. Governor Kasich signed the bill earlier this month and it will go into effect September 1st. Admittedly, government alone does not have the ability to make people stop texting while driving. The habit has been so ingrained in some people that it will take a relentless effort for them to stop. But by passing HB 99, we at least ensure that the message will continue to spread about the dangers associated with this activity, and it will show that our state—among 38 others—takes roadway safety seriously.

Among other things, House Bill 99 makes texting while driving for minors a primary offense, meaning that a violator can be pulled over by the police if they see that person texting. If cited, the violator will receive a $150 fine and will have his or her license suspended for 60 days. The bill bans texting statewide, but maintains home-rule laws in locales that already had a texting ban. Therefore, if a city has a texting law stricter than state law, that law still takes precedence. This legislation will however eliminate some confusion from people traveling from city to city regarding texting laws because it is now banned in all 88 counties.

Additionally, for anyone older than 18, texting while driving is a secondary offense and can be added to a citation for committing another traffic violation. Some exceptions to the law include emergency and navigational use, as well as public safety vehicles who depend on this technology.

Because we all share our public roads and highways, we have an obligation to keep them safe. I am confident that banning texting while driving in Ohio will make a positive impact in our state that will save lives.


Brian said...

Unfortunately, this legislation did not take into account the only study that has been done that correlates texting bans to accident rates – the 2010 study by researchers at the Highway Loss Data Institute finds no reductions in crashes after laws take effect that ban texting by all drivers. In fact, such bans are associated with a slight increase in the frequency of insurance claims…. http://www.iihs.org/news/rss/pr092810.html

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