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Governor DeWine Recommits to Strengthening Ohio’s Distracted Driving Laws

Governor DeWine Recommits to Strengthening Ohio’s Distracted Driving Laws

Yesterday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced his recommitment to improving the safety of Ohio’s roads by including provisions in his Executive Budget proposal that will strengthen Ohio's distracted driving laws.

"Ohio's current laws don't go far enough to change the culture around distracted driving, and people are dying because of it," said Governor DeWine. “Distracted driving is a choice that must be as culturally unacceptable as drunk driving is today, and strengthening our current laws will lead to more responsible driving.”

The Hands-Free Ohio provisions in Governor DeWine's budget proposal would make handling a hand-held electronic device a primary offense, meaning police wouldn’t need an additional violation of the law — such as speeding — to pull drivers over. Ohio is one of four states without primary enforcement laws for adults using hand-held electronic devices while driving.

“Ohio’s top three cities, Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati, as well as a number of other smaller cities have already enacted local ordinances prohibiting drivers from sending, reading or writing a text message, or accessing the internet while operating a motor vehicle,” said Dean Fadel, President of the Ohio Insurance Institute. “Thus, a large portion of Ohio’s population is already living with this law, and more importantly, the roads in these communities are safer for both drivers and pedestrians as a result.”

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, more than 100,000 distracted driving crashes have occurred in Ohio since 2013 resulting in more than 53,000 injuries.

“When you take your eyes off the road - even for just a few seconds – the consequences can be devastating,” said Colonel Richard S. Fambro, Ohio State Highway Patrol superintendent.

The Hands-Free Ohio provisions mirror language that was also part of Senate Bill 285. The bill, sponsored by Senator Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) and former Senator Sean J. O'Brien (D-Bazetta), was introduced during the 133rd General Assembly and strongly supported by the Ohio Insurance Institute.

You can read the Governor’s full release here.

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