Mary Alice Reporting – Instead of having to wait for a violation, law enforcement will now be able to conduct a traffic stop if a driver is holding or using a cell phone.

Senate Bill 288 makes distracted driving a primary offense in Ohio and prohibits drivers from using, holding, or physically supporting a cell phone.

Some exceptions do apply, such as a vehicle stopped at a red light, using the speakerphone function without holding the phone, or holding the phone to an ear without using the texting or type functions.

Ahead of the Tuesday signing, Governor Mike DeWine held a press conference and noted that distracted driving is a killer.

“It’s unnecessary and if we can eliminate distracted driving, we will save many, many lives. Men and women are out on our highways along with our own state employees through construction zones [and] their biggest enemy is distracted driving.” 

Based upon numbers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, more than 91,000 distracted driving crashes have occurred statewide, from 2013 to 2019, resulting in 305 deaths and 47,000 injuries.

Ohio’s Lt. Governor Jon Husted explained that this bill will create a different situation on the state’s roads.

“Making distracted driving a primary offense sends a clear message that this behavior is unacceptable, and we have a new law that will create more awareness about the dangers of distracted driving, and we begin to change the environment that exists on our roads and highways.”

The distracted driving legislation is contained within a larger bill about criminal justice reform.

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