The Ohio House recently passed a bill that would make using an electronic device while behind the wheel a primary offense, reports News 5 Cleveland.
Currently, texting and driving is illegal in Ohio, but it is not considered a primary offense. That means police can’t pull drivers over simply because they are texting. Rather, the driver must be pulled over for another violation — running a red light, for example — and only then can he or she can also receive a summons for texting if the police saw them doing so while driving.
The new mandate, if it passes in the Senate, will allow law enforcement to initiate a traffic stop and give a driver a citation solely for distracted driving.
Known as HB 283, the bill outlines a handful of exceptions, according to the report. These include emergencies, ‘non-moving situations,’ using speakerphone and other functions like changing a song provided that the driver isn’t holding the device. In these cases, using the electronic device while behind the wheel would not be an offense.
Some lawmakers believe that these exceptions contradict the intention of the legislation. Moreover, several Northeast Ohio lawmakers criticized the legislation for failing to include provisions related to data collection to ensure that the law isn’t disproportionately applied to drivers of certain races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic statuses, notes the news report.
In the past five years, there have been nearly 73,000 distracted driving collisions in Ohio and more than 2,100 crashes that resulted in serious injury or death, per the report. So far this year, Ohio has experienced 28 fatal distracted driving crashes.
The bill moves on to the Ohio Senate and must be passed by both chambers and signed by Gov. DeWine by the end of the year to make it law.