OHIO – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced today that he is reaffirming his commitment to improving the safety of Ohio’s roads by including provisions in his Executive Budget proposal that strengthen Ohio’s distracted driving laws.
Dewine would make driving with an electronic wireless device a primary offense, allowing law enforcement to stop a vehicle for only that infraction. Currently, it is only a secondary offense like seat belts and only can be corrected if a primary offense has been violated. Dewine also will increase penalties if a driver caused an injury or death due to distracted driving to mirror drunken driving.
“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.”
Currently, using a hand-held electronic wireless device for any purpose is a primary offense for drivers under 18, and using a device for text-based communications while driving is a secondary offense for adults.
“Every time you pick up your phone while driving you are putting your life and the lives of others in danger,” said Colonel Richard S. Fambro, Ohio State Highway Patrol superintendent. “When you take your eyes off the road – even for just a few seconds – the consequences can be devastating.”
Provisional data from the Ohio State Highway Patrol shows that 2020 was the deadliest year on Ohio’s roads in over a decade with 1,236 people killed in traffic crashes. More than 100,000 distracted driving crashes have occurred in Ohio since 2013 resulting in more than 53,000 injuries.