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Rep. Cindy Abrams Introduces Legislation to Strengthen Ohio’s Distracted Driving Laws

Rep. Cindy Abrams Introduces Legislation to Strengthen Ohio’s Distracted Driving Laws

On Monday, May 3, Ohio House Assistant Majority Whip Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison) introduced House Bill 283 that would prohibit the use of an electronic wireless communications device while driving and would make doing so a primary offense.

“A recent survey found that distracted driving is overwhelmingly the number one concern for Ohio drivers,” said Rep. Abrams. “The goal of this bill is to make our state a safer place to travel and reduce the amount of deaths and injuries on our roads.”

Ohio is one of four states without primary enforcement laws for adults using hand-held electronic devices while driving. “Distracted driving on Ohio roadways is a serious and growing problem, killing hundreds of Ohioans each year, and legislative action is urgently needed,” said Curt Steiner, spokesman for Fix Our Roads Ohio (FOR Ohio). “The provisions of the H.B. 283 are based on extensive study and on the success of similar statutes in other states that have proven to reduce crashes, prevent injuries and save lives.

States across the country that have moved forward with their own common-sense distracted driving laws have seen sharp decreases in traffic fatalities. Indiana enacted hands-free legislation in July 2020 and since then, the state has seen the lowest number of distracted driving crashes in over a decade. Arizona’s hands-free law went into effect Dec. 31, 2020 and already the state is seeing fewer drivers on their phones. A survey from the Arizona Governor’s Office on Highway Safety found 90% of drivers were not using their phones while driving.

H.B. 283 does include exemptions for voice-operated/hands-free use, emergency situations, and for first responders and would allow for a “single swipe” to connect or disconnect a call.

Governor Mike DeWine had included similar language in the biennial transportation budget, but the House Finance Committee removed the proposal from the bill.

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