Ohio: Cell phone laws, legislation

Last updated: September 16, 2014
Cell phone, text messaging news: State Rep. Rex Damschroder, a co-sponsor of the Ohio texting law that went into effect in 2013, is pushing for an upgrade to primary enforcement, which would allow officers to stop and cite adult offenders on sight. Damschroder, R-Fremont, said the upgrade “should be a high priority when we return to session in November.” He plans to introduce legislation before the return, which means lawmakers would have to move quickly. The state’s texting & driving ban is drawing widespread complaints from police that it’s too difficult or bothersome to enforce.

state flag for texting storyThe new Ohio distracted driving laws have two levels of enforcement: There is only secondary enforcement for adult drivers who text message. This means that police need another reason to stop and cite violators, such as weaving or speeding. For drivers under the age of 18, however, texting and the use of cell phones and other portable electronic devices are primary offenses.

Ohio Highway Patrol officers say they’ve issued only 230 texting citations to adult drivers under the year-old law. 42 teen drivers were ticketed.

Fines for adult violators: $150. For teen violators, $150 and a 60-day suspension of license. For teens with multiple violations, fines top out at $300 with possible loss of driver’s license for a year.

Several cities, including Cleveland, are modifying or repealing local laws and legislation in the wake of the state text messaging law’s enactment. The new Ohio distracted driving law states it won’t override “substantially equivalent municipal ordinances” that call for tougher penalties and priority enforcement.

Lyndhurst, Moreland Hills and Pepper Pike have made texting subject to primary enforcement. Brooklyn, North Olmsted, North Royalton, South Euclid, Walton Hills, Beachwood, Marietta, Shaker Heights and Woodmere have all outlawed handheld cell phone use for all drivers.

Ohio became the 39th state to ban text messaging while driving.

New HandsFreeInfo feature: Distracted driving research page.

Current prohibitions:

  • Statewide on text messaging by all drivers.
  • For drivers under the age of 18, use of portable electronic devices prohibited.
  • Cleveland, Toledo and Columbus are among the many Ohio cities that previously banned text messaging while driving (more cities below). The new state distracted driving law will not override local legislation that calls for stiffer penalties or enforcement.

Read the Ohio text messaging law | Read the ban on teens’ use of cell phones

Distracted driving notes (2014):
Marietta banned use of handheld communications devices via via a City Council vote March 6. The law should go into effect just after the July 4 weekend, officials said. “If this ban saves even one life, then it will have served its purpose,” Councilman Steve Thomas said. Read the Marietta distracted driving law (PDF).

Shaker Heights has outlawed use of handheld communications devices by drivers. Enforcement will be primary, including for texting violations. Fines up to $1,000 and possible jail time. Two points vs. driver’s license. The final City Council vote came Feb. 25 and the law will go into full effect in May. Read the Shaker Heights distracted driving law.

2013 distracted driving notes:
In Cleveland, police wrote almost 100 tickets for text messaging while driving in the first 11 months of 2013. The number of offenses isn’t fully reflected, as police tend to use the city’s 1976 “full time and attention” law for enforcement.

Marietta is hesitantly moving toward a ban on handheld cell phone use and texting while driving, with primary enforcement. The City Council vote was delayed until 2014 after numerous concerns were raised, however. “Something has to be done or someone is going to get killed,” one council member said in late November.

Moreland’s upgrade to primary enforcement for texting & driving violations went into full effect Oct. 15, with police writing tickets that would cost about $150 out of pocket. Warning signs are going up around the city. “It’s dangerous no matter what your age,” Mayor Susan Renda said of the state’s secondary enforcement for adult texting offenders.

Pepper Pike has adopted primary enforcement for texting & driving violations, allowing police to stop and cite violators for that reason alone. The effective date is Sept. 21, a month after the City Council adopted the ordinance. Tickets will cost violators about $185 out of pocket. The city sent notices to residents about the enforcement change from state law.

Marietta’s mayor wants an upgrade to Ohio’s new texting & driving law. He told the City Council on Aug. 15 that secondary enforcement wasn’t enough. “Something has to be done, so I’m recommending a complete ban on texting by drivers,” meaning primary enforcement for all violators regardless of age.

The city of Belpre revisited its texting & driving ordinance July 22, and decided to go with the state’s more detailed law. The move is a downgrade in enforcement, since the state code allows traffic stops for adults suspected of texting only when a second offense is observed. State fines now top out at $300; the city’s maximum was $500 with added possibility of jail time.

University Heights’ ban on using handheld wireless devices while driving is in effect with ticketing beginning July 15. The law actually went into effect June 14; warnings will be written until mid-July. Fines: $100 (first offense), then $250 and then $500. Possible 2 points vs. license. Primary enforcement, unlike the state texting law for adults.

Akron’s City Council approved a distracted driving ordinance March 11, but it essentially mirrors the state’s laws. A plan to make text messaging while driving a primary offense for adults was abandoned in part because of racial-profiling fears by the NAACP. Councilmen Mike Williams, who sponsored the first bill, said the council “will be revisiting this,” despite support from only a third of the panel. The city law will divert some ticket revenues to education about texting & driving.

Lyndhurst added a ban on handheld cell phone use in mid-April. The city also made texting & driving a primary offense for all drivers. Fine: $250 plus possible jail time.

The intent of the state texting law was to eliminate the patchwork of local laws. Rep. Damschroder, R-Fremont, says: “Now people know it is illegal to text anywhere in Ohio.”

Ohio distracted driving legislation (2011-2012):
House Bill 99: Would prohibit the driver of a motor vehicle from texting on an electronic wireless communications device. Primary enforcement (in the original House bill). Includes streetcars and trolleys. Fines up to $150. Provides for six-month warning period. Approved by the House Transportation, Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee in a unanimous vote taken March 30, 2011. Approved by the full House in an 88-10 vote taken June 28, 2011. Amended and approved by the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee on May 2, 2012. Approved by the full Senate on May 3 and returned to the House (detail below). The House gave final approval May 15. Latest action: The governor signed the texting measure June 1 and the law took effect 90 days after that (Aug. 31), with a six-month warning period to follow. (Damschroder, Garland)

Senate activity on HB 99: Amended and approved by the Senate Transportation Committee in a 6-3 vote taken May 2, 2012. Approved by the full Senate in a 28-5 vote May 3 and returned to the House. The Senate version would make text messaging by adults a secondary offense, watering down the House plan. For drivers under the age of 18, however, texting and use of other portable electronic devices would be a primary offense. (The House version did not single out teenage drivers.) Fine for teens: $150 plus 60-day license suspension. Subsequent offenses by teens would bring $300 fines and loss of license for a year.

Read the final Ohio distracted driving act.

SB 35: Would ban use of handheld communications devices while driving. Hands-free cell phone use OK. Includes streetcars and trolleys. Secondary enforcement. Fine: $30. Bill has not budged since being filed in the Highways & Transportation Committee on Feb. 1. (Tavares)

2012 distracted driving notes:
Cleveland Councilman Zack Reed’s plan to ban use of handheld cell phones while driving is being redrafted. Reed amended the proposed Cleveland ordinance in mid-September to bring its provisions it in line with the state’s texting law. That means enforcement was downgraded from primary to secondary. Reed will push the City Council to return primary enforcement to the legislation, he said Sept. 18. Reed says he has the votes to ban handheld cell phone use in Cleveland, Fox 8 reported

Beachwood is now enforcing its ban on use of handheld electronic devices by all drivers. The ordinance also covers laptop computers. Ticket plus 2 points against the driver’s license. The police chief successfully lobbied for primary enforcement for all violators, regardless of age, saying the pending state law is “too lenient.” The Beachwood measure was approved June 18, 2012, a warning period began July 18, and full enforcement went into effect a month later.

University Heights approved ordinances Aug. 13 that mirror the new state distracted driving laws. The move was necessary, apparently, because police write all traffic tickets under city ordinances. The police chief said he didn’t find evidence that cell phones were causing many local accidents.

Bowling Green’s City Council unanimously rejected a pan for a general distracted driving ordinance on Aug. 6. Police would have been be able to stop and cite drivers who do not give full attention to operating their vehicles. Enforcement would have been primary, unlike the new state restrictions on adults who text & drive.

Lyndhurst had been considering a ban on cell phone use by drivers under the age of 18, but the City Council decided the state’s new distracted driving laws were sufficient. The city previously banned text messaging by driving.

Rocky River, a west-side suburb of Cleveland, is in the process of enacting a local texting law with primary enforcement. Two more readings are required. The measure is another response to the state’s new secondary enforcement law.

Parma Heights isn’t waiting for the state ban on texting & driving that goes into effect Aug. 30. In mid-June, the City Council put into immediate effect an ordinance against the distracted driving practice. The ordinance calls for secondary enforcement for adults and primary enforcement for teens, same as the state law.

Between 2009 and 2011, 31,231 accidents in Ohio involved distracted drivers, state police say. Those wrecks led to 74 deaths and 7,825 injuries.

“Distracted driving is unsafe, irresponsible — and in a split second, its consequences can be devastating,” Patrol superintendent John Born said April 11 in announcing the stats. Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, had the most wrecks. View Ohio distracted driving crashes by district.

Cleveland Councilman Zack Reed has proposed a citywide ban on all uses of handheld cell phones while driving. “The distracted driving accidents that have occurred here in Cuyahoga County far exceed those in the state of Ohio, more than Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo combined,” the Cleveland councilman said in filing the legislation April 30.

Councilman Zack Reed’s 2012 plan to ban use of handheld cell phones in Cleveland follows up on his ordinance that succeeded in banning texting & driving in 2009. He accused state legislators of “sticking their heads in the sand” when it comes to distracted driving. Fines: $100, then $250, then $500.

Senate President Tom Niehaus told reporters in early February that the House texting bill was unlikely to advance unless more senators register their support. AAA lobbied senators on behalf of the legislation.

A spokesman for AAA East Central said of HB 99: “We’re discouraged, but not defeated.” AAA has set up a toll-free number that allows residents to speak their minds about distracted driving to representatives: 855-BAN-TEXT (855-226-8398).

Kettering is the latest Ohio municipality to ban text messaging while driving, via a unanimous City Council vote taken in late December 2011. The law went into effect Jan. 3 but tickets won’t be written before June. The mayor noted that House Bill 99 “doesn’t seem to be moving through the Senate very quickly.”

2011 distracted driving notes:
Fairview Park has enacted a ban on texting while driving with primary enforcement status. Fines $100/$250/$500. The law was pushed through on first reading Dec. 19, in order to help cut down on holiday accidents.

The Transportation Committee heard testimony Nov. 16 on House Bill 99, the texting & driving measure. A man who lost his daughter in a crash allegedly caused by a texting driver was among the witnesses.

Ohio’s House approved the distracted driving measure June 28 in an 88-10 vote. The Senate committee chairman already has warned that the panel will be “treading carefully” on the issue.

Louisville, Ohio, lawmakers went back and forth on a plan for a text messaging ordinance before rejecting it. “I feel that if more local government bodies pass ordinances to prohibit this dangerous behavior, the legislators in Columbus will take notice and create a statewide law,” said council member Guy Guidone (see his reader comment below). The bill was approved in a 3-2 vote Dec. 19 but defeated on second reading (4-1).

Wauseon’s ban on texting while driving went into effect in mid-November. It’s a minor misdemeanor, but serial offenders and distracted drivers causing accidents will faces fines of up to $500 and 60 days in jail. The local police chief said the city would no longer wait for the Ohio Legislature to act. “Enough is enough,” he told the Toledo Blade just before the unanimous Oct. 17 vote. The ordinance also covers use of the Internet via devices such as smartphones and laptops.

AAA and Clear Channel Outdoors have teamed up for billboards in support of HB 99. In addition to the message “dnt txt n drv,” motorists are given a toll-free number — 855-BAN-TEXT — that will connect them to their state senators. Of course, that call will have to wait if drivers are alone. About 70 billboards are being erected statewide.

Ohio HB 99 outlook: “I think we’ll get it passed through the House,” said AAA lobbyist Ric Oxender (it did pass). “The Senate will be a little more difficult, but it’s doable.”

“One more town like Wauseon passing the bill against texting makes it more important that we pass this because that increases the patchwork (of local laws) across the state,” said HB 99 co-sponsor Rep. Rex Damschroder, R-Fremont.

Worthington’s City Council rejected a proposal to ban handheld cell phone use by drivers on July 18. One lawmaker feared the city image would suffer if it handed out tickets to unknowing non-residents (as in a speed trap) while another said the legislation smacked of “a police state.”

AAA East Central’s Brian Newbacher testified in support of HB 99 before the House Transportation Committee on March 16: “Texting while driving is the most dangerous of all distractions behind the wheel. It therefore merits special attention with its own law and enforcement and education programs.”

AAA East Central has asked supporters of distracted driving legislation to contact their legislators. “We’re reasonably optimistic that we’ll have passage (of a no-texting law) in the next two years,” a spokesman said in January.

The city of Dublin has banned texting while driving. Misdemeanor with primary enforcement. Fines of $150 and possible jail time. The City Council vote came Feb. 14. Councilman Mike Keenan pushed for the new law after his daughter lost a friend in a distracted driving accident.

AAA East Central asks supporters of distracted driving legislation to contact their legislators. “We’re reasonably optimistic that we’ll have passage (of a no-texting law) in the next two years,” a spokesman said in January.

The city of Berea has banned texting while driving, but enforcement is secondary, requiring police to have another reason to stop a motorist. The vote came in mid-January 2011.

Distracted driving legislation (2009-10):
Ohio House Bill 415: Would outlaw text messaging by all drivers in Ohio. Primary offense. $150 fine after six-month warning period. Approved by the House Public Safety Committee on March 10 and then by the full House on March 24 (86-12 vote). Sent to the Senate. (DeBose, Garland)

Ohio House Bill 266: Would prohibit drivers from using mobile communications devices, including cell phones (unless a hands-free attachment is employed). Also applies to streetcars.

Ohio House Bill 261: Seeks to outlaw text messaging by all drivers. Includes typing on cell phones, PDAs and laptops.

Ohio House Bill 262: Would ban use of handheld cell phones and text messaging while driving.

HB 270: Seeks to ban text messaging by all drivers in Ohio.

HB 130: Would prohibit drivers under 17 who have restricted licenses from talking on cell phones or text messaging. (No apparent activity on this bill as of August 2009.)

Ohio Senate Bill 164: Would outlaw text messaging by all drivers. Secondary enforcement.

Legislation notes:
Sponsors of HB 415, approved by the House safety panel, used the U.S. Department of Transportation’s model distracted driving legislation as a guide.

Rep. Joseph Koziura, D-Lorain, is the sponsor of HB 266, which seeks to make use of mobile handheld devices while driving a primary offense. Fines range from $25 to $100 depending on past offenses. The legislation has bipartisan backing, with 11 co-sponsors.

Rep. Michael DeBose, D-Cleveland, is the author of House Bills 261 and 262. They call for fines of $250 with more severe sanctions for causing an accident while texting or cell phoning. Both are designed for secondary enforcement, meaning law officers need another reason to pull over a driver, such as running a red light.

HB 262 as filed does not cite use of hands-free devices as an exception to the cell phone ban.

Sen. Shirley Smith, D-Cleveland, sponsored SB 164, with fines of $200 for first-time offenders and $500 for subsequent offenses. Two or more violations require 100 hours of community service. The Ohio text messaging bill calls for primary enforcement.

Regarding a state of an Ohio text-messaging ban for drivers, Rep. Jay Hottinger, R-Newark, told the Newark Advocate: “I think it’s a matter of time. Because I think you’re going to see more accidents (caused by texting).”

City/county legislation and laws:
Cleveland banned texting & driving in city limits in 2009. Fines range from $150-$500.

Cincinnati: The city’s ban on text messaging while driving is now being enforced. A majority of council members voted Sept. 10, 2010, to outlaw texting and accessing the Internet while behind the wheel. The distracted driving ordinance took effect 30 days later with $100 and up fines. “It’s a question of safety on the streets; it’s not rocket science,” said Councilman Chris Bortz, who pushed for a ban on texting last year, but failed to gather enough votes. This year there are three new council members, leaving Councilman Chris Monzel alone in his resistance to the ban. The new Cincinnati distracted driving law also outlaws Internet use while driving but does not affect cell phone use.

Cleveland Heights has banned texting while driving in city limits. Fines $100 then $250 and $500. The law was approved Sept. 20, 2010.

Delaware, Ohio, has banned text messaging and use of the Internet while driving. Fines $150. The distracted driving ordinance was approved June 29, 2010. The ban was based on Columbus’ law.

Gahanna upgraded fines for its ordinance against distracted driving/failure to have vehicle under control. They now are $250 and and up to 30 days in jail. City officials said the tougher penalties were designed to send the signal that text messaging and driving would not be tolerated.

Worthington’s ban on text messaging while behind the wheel took effect July 14, 2010. Primary enforcement. Fines $150 (first offense) then $500/$1000. The City Council rejected a last-minute bid to outlaw handheld cell phone use by drivers, but plans to readdress the issue Sept. 14.

Belpre has outlawed texting while driving. The legislation passed its third reading before the City Council on May 24, 2010. Fines from $150 to $500 and up to 60 days in jail. Primary enforcement.

Columbus has outlawed text messaging while driving. The law provides for primary enforcement and $150 fines. The distracted driving law went into effect May 5, 2010. City Councilman Andrew Ginther authored the legislation, which was approved in early April. In the first six months, 24 citations were written.

Hilliard lawmakers voted May 24, 2010, to enact a ban on text messaging by drivers.

Lyndhurst is considering banning cell phone use by drivers under age 18. The city banned texting while operating a motor vehicle in November 2009.

South Euclid councilmen voted Jan. 25, 2010, to ban handheld cell phone use and text messaging by drivers. The council also outlawed use of computers while driving. Fines $100/$250/$500.

Highland Heights‘ police chief has been told to research a citywide ban on texting. The chief had multiple reservations about a local law. There has been no action since a possible ban was discussed in February 2010.

North Royalton has outlawed text messaging while driving in city limits. Violations will be a primary offense, meaning police can pull over violators for that reason alone. The ordinance was approved Dec. 15, 2009.

Toledo’s City Council approved a ban on text messaging while driving in city limits on Nov. 24. Texting behind the wheel is now a primary offense, meaning police can pull over drivers for that reason alone. Mayor Carty Finkbeiner proposed the anti-texting law in August. The law took effect on Jan. 1, 2010.

Summit County has approved a ban on text messaging for all drivers. It is the first country texting ban in Ohio, but it does not include Akron. The anti-texting law, which calls for $150 fines, was voted in on Oct. 19, 2009.

The city of Huron has prohibited texting while driving. Fines start at $150 and take effect in mid-August 2010.

The city of Bexley began enforcing its ban on text messaging while driving on Oct. 21, 2009. The City Council outlawed texting behind the wheel on Sept. 22. As of March 2010, no citations had been written.

North Olmsted adopted a text messaging while driving ban, to go with its handheld cell phone law. The unanimous vote in favor came on Oct. 6, 2009.

At a March 24, 2009, hearing for the proposed Cleveland ban on texting while driving, Councilman Mike Polensik said text messaging wasn’t a priority in his part of the city: “I would be happy if the hoodlums were texting each other rather than robbing people out on the street.”

Cleveland’s safety director, Martin Flask, said: “This is as much about public awareness as it is enforcement.”

The citizens of Bowling Green actually got to decide their cell phone fates: A vote on whether to ban yakking while driving was cast in May 2009. “I don’t think you could go wrong with the public making a decision,” a city councilman said after the Sept. 16 vote on the vote. “I’ve just got this feeling it’s going to put the community at odds,” the sole opposing representative said. The anti-text messaging measure in Bowling Green was defeated by a clear majority.

Previous cell phone/texting legislation:
HB 425 from the 2007-2008 session would have prohibited drivers from text messaging. It was last seen in committee.

The cell phone industry wasn’t protesting HB 425: “We certainly wouldn’t take issue with that legislation,” said Joe Farren of CITA-The Wireless Association, the wireless industry lobby in America. “We don’t think anyone should be text messaging while they drive. Public safety is a constant and primary issue here.”

Comments

  1. C. Shaulis says:

    I think the use of cell phones while driving should have been banned a long time ago. Yes, I am guilty of using mine, but if there were a law enforced, it would keep me from using it. I see people everyday nearly cause accidents becuase of cell phone distraction. I am am not sure which one is worse swerving, cutting people off, tailgating, running traffic lights…I have seen it all and 90% of those people are using their cell phones. I am 110% for banning cell phones!!

  2. Fred Burton Jr. says:

    This is insane dudes. Some people can text just fine and drive. Not everybody is so uncoordinated that they can only do one thing at a time. I’m tired of the government stepping in on every last thing. Why dont we worry about catching crooks instead of bugging everyday people just trying to get by.
    Thanks for your time

  3. I can completely understand! However there are always distractions! I was in a horrible accident that landed me in the hospital for 6 months because some guy was eating and didn’t see me. What about the women that brush their hair and put makeup on or ones that are messing with the radio? Will they ban those also?

  4. GaryGross says:

    Texting, Twitter and emails are all equally a distraction to drivers. In a recent survey on bad driving habbits, rated those three at a higher risk than drinking while driving.

    Ohio has taken a long time react to the need for new legislation. I am afraid Ohio language on the passed legislation will be limited to texting. Twitter usuage is the new trend and is predicted to be the highest usage by cell phone users by January of 2011.

    Anyone that believes drivers can read and type while driving are being shallow minded. Every study done by the insurance industry and safety departments show reading and typing on a cell phone as the highest single factor in raisng the risk of an accident.

  5. Sharon Gumto says:

    You spelled North Olmstead incorrectly. Your link to the city uses the historic “Olmstead” spelling but the city’s contemporary spelling is “Olmsted”. I know this has relatively nothing to do with the subject and focus of your website; however, it would be nice if it were edited with the correct spelling in the event someone might not think you are talking about the same location.

  6. I’m somewhat undecided on this issue, yes I think there should be laws regulating the texting and calling on cellphones but at the same time how would police really be able to enforce the law? I mean short of putting a camera in every car sold, I can’t see how the law would be enforced. police would almost have 2 pull over any driver who’s not looking at the road.

  7. I'm doing a debate on this topic in High School o.O says:

    Just because people eat and brush their hair and all that while they’re driving doesnt mean that a ban on texting shouldnt be enacted. Nothing “bad” could come from this law, unless you want to assert your right to texting while driving…which is nonexistant.

    As for whether eating in the car should be banned…that is a debate for another day.

  8. Tim Haeger says:

    I think that there should be some type of law forbiding cell phone usage while driving. My brother and I have almost been in multiple accidents due to people talking on their cell phones.

  9. Karl Arula says:

    I agree with C. Shaulis although I do not answer my phone while driving. More importantly, what is the legislation waiting for? Pass the cell phone law and texting law statewide so violators can get what they deserve – a fine!

  10. Andrew Hazelton says:

    They now need to put “safe mobile device usage stop points” on the side of the road on the highways. Cause i’m not getting off on an exit 5 miles down the road just to return an important missed business call while i’m commuting or on the job

  11. JJ Faubel says:

    Good job, Ohio! Finally responding to the fact that people suck at driving when on a cell phone. I’ve lived in South Carolina, and just moved from Hawaii, (two of the worst places in the country for driver’s competence…its a statistical fact) and I’m appalled by the driving in Columbus. And if you “have to answer your phone” or “have to talk” while commuting (waaahhhhh)? Then buy a bluetooth! I have one…it was expensive when I got it. Now, you can get then for $30 from nearly anywhere. You can even get them cheaper if you just get a wired headset that you plug into your phone. It comes down to this: Anyone (myself included) is a fool if they think they can talk (with a handset) and NOT have it impact their driving.

  12. Dan Hladky says:

    Wednesday, we were rear ended while stopped in traffic on I-480 by a guy on a cell phone at 60 MPG. He never hit his brakes. This new law is too lenient. The penalties should be more severe than DUI laws. Alcohol is a disease, cell phones are not.

  13. Gayemarie Long says:

    Something has to be done about this issue. Just found out on Nov. 3, 2010 the cause of an accident that took my sons life. The driver was Texting while Driving. Am I angry? Absouletly! Am I going to fight for statewide legislation and laws? You can count on it! MaMa Bear on a Mission.

  14. Exactly what would be the DOWNSIDE of banning all cell phone usage while driving? What are we afraid of anyway? Belive it or not people will not die because they cannot use the phone for a few minutes – Jeeeeeez. But people are dying every day because we think we need to.

  15. In the UK the cell phone is totally banned while driving……It works just fine for everyone in that country.

  16. Karl Arula says:

    With a new governor in office, I hope that cell phone and texting laws while driving are enacted sooner than later. No further studies need to be done and the money collected from the fines should help. In additon, this may modify some behavior but there will be repeat offenders. Let’s not waste any time and get the laws on the books like in NY and MD, for example.

  17. Fred Burton Jr. says:

    kc on November 18th, 2010 12:36 pm
    In the UK the cell phone is totally banned while driving……It works just fine for everyone in that country.

    Then move to England. I’m furious with the nonsense. Let’s ban radios in cars too because it “distracts” drivers. I’m so sick and tired of people who can’t do more than one thing at once while driving complaining about it. I dont give a hoot if there is a law banning texting. I’ll keep doing it. There are laws against speeding and we all do it daily…who cares? For the few times I get caught I will get out thousands of texts.
    Thanks for your time

  18. Yes ban texting while driving and talking cell phone.

  19. Unenforceable as written, The only way to eliminate mobile wireless usage must be done by the service providers. With current technology mobile equipment incorporating GPS, communication devices could be suspended from operating while in motion. This can only be done by legislation, but too many $$$$ at stake for service providers. Doubt if ever would be considered. Other words the companies would buy off the politicians.

  20. Why is Ohio taking its good old time analyzing this issue? Furthermore, when the law does go into effect (sooner than later), it needs to be a PRIMARY offense not a SECONDARY offense. Stop dragging on this legislation already!!

  21. How many more innocent people will have to die before the state of Ohio WAKES UP and bans cellphone use while in control of a motor vehicle? What’s it going to take???

    http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2011/03/10/3-killed-in-Airport-Hwy-crash.html

  22. Debra Hablitzel says:

    We believe that we were rear ended by a teen using a cell phone/texting on Jan. 25th, 2011, in Nankin, OH. (just northeast of Ashland, OH) We were completely sitting still, waiting for oncoming traffic about 6-8 seconds when we were hit from behind. Our tail lights, brake lights, and turn signal flashing were on, and yet the 17 year old girl, did not see us. We asked the Ashland prosecutor’s office to investigate, but due to no law against cell phone use while driving, they could not persue the matter for us.

  23. Larry Graves says:

    God grant us the serentity to accept the things we cannot change and the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

  24. Susan Drummond says:

    My beautiful five-year-old granddaughter was killed in a car accident on August 15, 2011 by a woman who was using her cell phone. My son was stopped to let a deer cross the road. There were no obstructions. It was a clear day on a straight, flat road. She rear-ended their van going 55-60 mph and never touched the brakes.

    DISTRACTED DRIVING KILLS!!!

  25. Susan Drummond says:

    @Fred Burton, Jr.

    I hope to God you never have to endure the pain that our family has had to endure.

  26. I am all for banning cell phone usage while driving. Pull off the road and talk.

  27. Dan Krempel says:

    I honestly hope they ban all hand held use while driving. I’m so sick of people on their cell phone while cutting me off, stopping short, swerving, failing to stop or sitting at green lights for no reason. When on my motorcycle, I can’t describe how many people have nearly killed me because they’re on the phone. I’ve been pushed into the emergency lane on the freeway several times by talkers – when I see them, I instantly red flag them as dangerous to myself. And I really don’t care if a ‘small minority’ are able to talk/txt “just fine”.

  28. Glynis Valenti says:

    I’m researching an article on kids & cell phones & am SHOCKED that Ohio hasn’t passed a state-wide law yet. I lived in NY and OR til last year where cell/texting is illegal while driving (hands free okay.) I was wondering about all of the irresponsible driving I’ve seen since I moved. On my way to a meeting last night the average was 3 out of 5 drivers yapping on cell phones–within the seven miles I drove to the mtg! This is out of control. Texting and hands-on cell use should be a primary offense.

  29. I agree with Glynis. I don’t understand the holdup because it’s a no-brainer. Excuses need to stop being made about not having cell/texting laws. SB 35 and SB 99 both need to be passed and enforced now. The motorists who are against the laws DON’T HAVE TO LIKE THEM!!

  30. Actually, you’re not supposed to stop on the road and let a deer cross. If it’s in the road, you hit it. You do not swerve to miss it and you do not stop. That is what is taught in driver’s ed these days. Unless there is no one around you, you should keep on going.

    And for the person who said they wanted the police to investigate the 17 year old girl who rear ended them… let me guess, just because she was 17, you automatically assumed that she was texting, right? People these days…

    And I’m going to guess that NONE of you text and drive (except for the guy who admitted it… xD)… right? None of you? That’s bull. Everyone does it, unless they don’t have a cell phone. Either way, we all drive distracted. If you’re paying attention to the people beside you rather than the road in front of you, that’s distracted driving. It’s not just cell phones, people. Think about it.

    And I’m not stating my views on this, so don’t be all like, Well, she is clearly against the bills then. I am not for or against them. People will do what they want so why’s it going to matter what the law says.

  31. Guy Guidone says:

    As a member of Louisville City Council, last night I presented sample legislation to my colleagues to make it illegal to send, read or write a text message or access the internet while operating a motor vehicle inside the municipal boundaries of the city. I feel that if more local government bodies pass ordinances to prohibit this dangerous behavior, the legislators in Columbus will take notice and create a statewide law.

  32. So, as I was stuck at a RED LIGHT, I texted some one (shoot me..I know). Was pulled over no less than 30 seconds later by a Rocky River policeman who went on a tirade about the dangers of texting while driving. Mentioning the driver who killed someone in Hudson, mocking my resonse to “no” when asked if I knew it was illegal to ” even take your eyes off the road”, swearing unprofessionally and telling me he should write me a ticket. Which lead me to google the actual law (and here) and technically, based on HB 99, police arent able to issue tickets (in non banned already ordinances) until 12/28/2011.

    Unfortunately, Im sick and didnt feel like debating the finer points of this bill with him but this bill clearly caveats plenty of exceptions where taking your “eyes off the road” is perfectly acceptable (I.e. “For navigational purposes”) He even explained its completely “ok” to eat, drink, and talk on the phone while driving since your eyes don’t “need” to leave the road…

    Call me crazy, but Im pretty sure cars not built with steering wheel radio station seekers, require a slight eye movement. So does putting your drink back into a holder, looking at a GPS, and many other things. Yes Im being “nit-picky” but my point is, bad things are going to happen on the road. Should we be doing 90 miles an hour on the freeway texting our autobiography? probably not.. but when your sitting at a red light, common sense should dictate appropriate reactions.

    • Thanks for the comment, K. House Bill 99 has not been approved by the Senate and will not take effect this year, if ever.

  33. HB 99 and SB 35 BOTH need to be passed and ENFORCED soon. It’s a matter of safety not politics or special interests of cellular phone companies. Furthernmore, this State can use the fine money for needed bolstering law enforcement and other worthwhile expenses. If NY and other states can pass cell phone legislation (and enforce it), WHY NOT Ohio statewide?

  34. Several years ago I approached the mayor in the city in which I live and asked him about getting texting and cell phone use while driving legislation passed. He said that he could not support it because he wants to see a State law “with some bite to it.” Lame to say the least, he may be one of those who talks on the phone when he drives. Also, saw a State Senator (from the license plate) on the phone while driving and let’s say that he would fail miserably if he were taking his driving exam.

  35. Timmie Cox says:

    I am so against chat texting on cellphones. I was hit by a person on the cellphone here in Mansfield Ohio and there is nothing being done about it. Please if someone who knows how to make my voice heard hwere in this city where everyone seems too be on the cellphone even the police before lives begin to be taken for some that can be banned. I am now suffering from PTSD and it is bad I never had this before and would like to do something about it here.

  36. With regard to SB35, this really needs to be revised so a violation is a PRIMARY offense not a whimpy secondary offense. Get with it, Ohio!!

  37. wow i love living in a COMMUNIST country. yeah TEXTING AND DRIVING IS DANGEROUS!!! if your an idiot. or a 16 year old girl who just got dumped. but if your a sensible person not on the fringe of a dramatic break down and can handle doing two things at once. like changing the radio, drinking a monster, or having other people in the car who are doing people stuff then you’re probably ok to text and drive. If texting and driving is illegal then shouldn’t we take out all stereo’s, cigarette lighters, cup holders, and wall in the driver behind a sound proof wall so they can’t be distracted by the passengers. makes sense to me

  38. So are you really trying to tell us. That by putting a cup in a holder or hitting a button on your radio it is just as distracting as reading a text and typing a reply?????????

    I can’t tell you how many times I have seen somone with there phones sitting on top of there steering wheels driving down the road.

  39. A lot hinges on common sense when driving, whether it’s adjusting the stereo or dring a can of pop. Unfortunately, there is greater danger when you are texting and driving then for other less riskier behaviors while driving. Overall, soory to say, al ot people don’t have common sense when driving, and furthermore, in driver’s ed, you were taught two hands on the wheel!

  40. Guy Guidone says:

    The proposal to ban texting while driving a motor vehicle within the boundaries of Louisville, Ohio, was my idea. The potential ordinance ran its course, passed with a 3-2 vote on the first reading, but was soundly defeated on the second reading by a 4-1 vote. Had the council approved this legislation, Louisville would have fallen in line with many other Ohio communities and quite possibly helped with forcing the hand of the General Assembly to act on a statewide ban.

    I disagree with not passing this important legislation because “there are many laws broken and this one would only add to rules that are unenforceable.” It is views such as this that preserve the ability for irresponsible drivers to legally continue this dangerous practice and threaten the safety of conscientious motorists throughout our country.

    Our local government process worked exactly as designed. The idea was presented, discussed and ultimately decided upon. Although we disagree on this matter, I have a great deal of respect for my colleagues and accept their decision.

    Guy Guidone
    Louisville City Council member

  41. I don’t understand why politicians are so gun shy about not passing both texting and talking laws with regard to mobile devices. Why is it that other states can pass such laws such as NY and OH cannot? Too many excuses (not reasons) why this is not moving forward as it should. Are the politicians the biggest violators, and a law would infringe on this irresponsible behavior? Are the politicians in the pockets of the carriers? This is a no-brainer people and it’s not a matter of “freedom” it’s a matter of safety. I hope the Governor is listening, too! If a loved one is injured or killed as a result of a mobile device being used from a motorist, you will wish there was a law in place, and don’t say otherwise!

  42. YES! i am saying that texting is just as distracting! it is a completly individual decision to decide how much focus it takes to any action while driving. If i take 5 minutes worth of 1 second glances to read a text and another 5 minutes to type out what i’ve got to say then how is that any more dangerous than taking a drink?

    jason- so you’re really trying to tell me, that you want the government to control all these aspects of your life? it makes me sick to see people just hand over their freedom. To say “Here take it!” do you think that we are not smart enough on our own? The first lady want to control our children eat 24/7, the president want to make us all buy health care, now you want to tell me that I am not a smart enough individual to text and drive? Also, that i should be punished for it?! Who is anyone to tell me what to buy, how to raise my children, or how to be safe?

    “those who will sacrafice freedom for security will have niether.”
    -Ben Franklin

  43. OH AND TO YOU “karl marx”

    This is absolutly a matter a freedom! If anyone in my family dies it will be a tradgedy of massive proportion not matter the cause. So, and even if (God forbid) a tradgedy did strike it would not change my views on these freedom dampening laws. and that is exactly what they are!

    if your so happy that NY passed the law then move there and let their politicians pick your neighbors pockets to line their own and i’ve have one less buckeye to worry about while i’m safely texting and driving. Another source of state revenue is all this law would be.

    you can restrict and regulate under the false intention of preserving life, until you are no longer able to enjoy life.

    So tell me “karl marx” would you trade your freedom for safety?
    Or better yet, would you trade you fellow Americans freedom for you’re own safety?

  44. We have freedom but when dangerous habits like talking and texting while driving are practiced, then yes, that needs to be regulated. Pull over or park in a lot and go to town with texting and jawing on the phone, that way you don’t create a dangerous situation for other motorists who supposedly practice safe driving habits. And slowly, communities in Ohio will start enacting laws if the State continues to sit on their butts and do NOTHING! You can still have freedom but it needs to be exercised responsibly not because you like to talk and text while driving! Revenue? Good. Ohio can use it at the expense of people who are hell bent on having it their way.

  45. M Radcliff says:

    Okay for banning cell phones while driving?? What about the truckers who depend on the cell phone to stay awake and be alerted to traffic conditions?? That probably saves MORE lives than it takes,right? you guys never had problems with CB’s which was a lot more distracting,huh? My husband talks on a hands free device and helps them to stay awake and not become hypnotized to the road . They practice good safety precautions and they need their phones. they are not teeny boppers texting every 2 seconds ,these are responsible grown drivers that practice safe driving for a living!

  46. I do not take issue with handsfree or Bluetooth devices when using a mobile phone. What irks me are the motorists who have their phones pasted to their ear and don’t care if they are disrupting traffic, causing an accident, or some other conditon that could cause potential harm.

  47. Michelle DeVille says:

    My best friend Jamie was killed by a texting driver in October of 2008. She was a beautiful person inside and out and had two young children. She was pursuing her degree in nursing while working as a dental hygienist and had just gotten engaged to the love of her life. She was 31… The young man who was texting was driving at 55mph as was she, and went left of center and smashed into her car. He died at the scene, she lived for an hour. He had graduated from high school a mere 4 months prior to this tragedy and his momentary lapse in judgement devastated two families… This is a senseless tragedy that can be prevented. So many lives are being destroyed or forever altered every day by this distraction and it’s not just teenagers doing it… People who text and drive should be cited in much the same way as someone drinking and driving.. The end results can still be the same……

  48. I work for a cell phone company and I do NOT believe in texting and driving and I agree that it shoud be banned. Now for all of you irresponsible people that want to text and drive there are hundreds of devices on the market that will let you voice text. With all of the voice to text devices that are out there, there is no reason anyone one should put the lives of other people in danger just because you cant wait 10-20 min to text someone back. To Fred Burton Jr I encourage you to read all the stories on here about people who have lost loved ones and family members on here and reconsider your stance on the subject, and to your point that “There are laws against speeding and we all do it daily … who cares? For the few times I get caught I will get out thousands of texts.” There are laws that say someone can”t punch you in the face for texting and driving but people break the law all the time so I hope someone sees you text and driving and punches you square in the nose.

  49. Mr Patton, why are you reluctant to pass mobile phone use and texting for ALL age groups? I bet you talk and text on the phone yourself! In fact, I know you chat without a handfree device!

  50. Kevin L. says:

    I think you are all just jumping on the “No Cell Phone’s While Driving” bandwagon here. Cell phones have been around since the 1940′s. (well rough models more or less) I don’t think there should be restrictions on an electronic device that we spend our hard earned money on. It just goes against the average citizen’s rights, in my opinion.

    • Kevin: Interesting point not made here before. I used to install mobile phones in cars in the 1970s. Although I cannot recall a single teenage girl getting one.

  51. Melissa Lutterbie says:

    I oppose legislation against texting and driving. I will sign any form needed to say I am against (CON) these laws and legislations! P.S. I am a forty year old female with children, not a teen.

  52. Kevin, you spend your hard earned money on a car and if you don’t wear your seat belt you get a ticket, so according to your logic I shouldn’t have to wear one. The reason they made it a law is because statistics show that when wearing a seat belt you have a better chance of surviving a crash. There is an article that a drunk driver maneuvering thru an obstacle course performs better than a sober driver performing the same test while texting. This brings me back to your point that if you spend your hard earned money on your car you should be allowed to drink and drive. So if driving while drunk is against the law because 1000′s of people are killed every year why shouldn’t it be against the law to text while driving?

    MELISSA the drinking age is 21 or should we change that to 40 since your age seems to make you a better driver than anyone else! MELISSA I’m sure the families of anyone killed by a drunk driver over the age of 40 would love to talk to you and after your done you can join Kevin as he talks to the families of the people killed by someone using a cell phone.

  53. It is evident that the legislation does not go far enough although the law does address the prohibition of teens using electronic devices. However, the secondary offense is a joke, it should be a primary offense and based on the proposed law, it seems like it’s just for texting. Ohio needs to look how New York, California, and Maryland have their laws written. When you cut too much slack, WHY EVEN BOTHER TO HAVE A LAW?

    • Thanks for the comment, Karl. Although secondary laws seem ineffective as deterrents, most people obey the law simply because it’s the law.

  54. I sincerely hope that SB 35 is passed to address the handheld issue. It’s amazing how many motorists chat on the phone and don’t even blink an eye when they nearly cause an accident or slow down the normal flow of traffic. Hope Kasich is listening. Ohio needs to make this a PRIMARY offense and stop being being so hesitant; other states such as NY, CA, MD, just to name a few have tougher laws, so whay can’t OH? People love their mobile devices so if it means writing a ticket all the better. A ticket will not only bring money into the State coffers but it will make a motorist think twice before dialing their mobile phone! In the end, it’s a matter of safety NOT INDIVIDUAL LIBERTIES!

  55. Abhijit says:

    There are some comments here indicating that those “drivers” are capable of doing more than one thing at a time while behind the wheels. Thankfully, these fools are far and few in number and most of us agree on how dangerous distracted driving actually is. Research shows that human mind can only focus on one thing at a time (Google “human mind can only focus on one thing at a time”). Please see this documentary against distracted driving. Please spread the awareness and get those dangerous “drivers” off the road.

  56. Beachwood just passed a law in the community cell phone usage. It’s time the politicians in Columbus wake up and pass a law that models Beachwood’s as it seems like it realistically punishes violators.

  57. JENNIFER says:

    Ohio, wake up. so behind in the times. Are you waiting for all of us to die. Get rid of the phones. I am hit almost every day both on foot and in car because of them…!

  58. The banning of texting and talking while driving are great and I hope people will adhere to the law. The problem comes with those who think they are above the law and will text and talk while driving anyway. Most of the time, a ticket/fine/suspension only occur AFTER some sort of incident. There needs to be stronger more effective punishment to keep people from breaking the law.

  59. Pat polcaro says:

    These texting laws are not meant to stop people from texting but increase revenue for the state by levying fines. What should take place is laws forcing the cell phone providers to use the GPS feature to disable the texting function when the phone is moving more than sat 10 miles per hour. One of the abilities of GPS s is to determine speed as well as location. Every time the government tries to make laws it is always focused on generating revenue from its citizens and really never solves the problem.

  60. What the legislature needs to do is model Beachwood’s law and implement it statewide. As a result, people will abide by it or pay the piper. If anything else ensure that there is a “blanket” distractive driving law that covers notable distractive driving habits. A strict law will hopefully act as a deterrent to discourage poor habits. When I learned how to drive, first words out of the instructor’s mouth was “two hands on the wheel.” It should be no different today just because mototrists have electronic devices.

  61. Distracted driving does kill and if you disagree with this new law then your just ignorant.

  62. Sad that “common sense” has to be legislated!

  63. David Roach says:

    This will be impossible to enforce, which is good, but it will encourage Police harassment as they try to discover if you were really texting, or even reading a text/e-mail, or if you were doing one of the exemptions like reading a weather report, calling your doctor, or simply entering your phones passcode to activate. I advise drivers to have the officers prove it. Do not give them your phone and remember, No searches without a warrant! The “Reading” element is particularly disturbing (thought-police), completely impossible to prove, and hypocritical (digital “text” traffic signs encourage reading too).

  64. I two years ago I rear ended someone. There was a vehicle with flashing lights several vechiles ahead, and I just didn’t see the car in front of me. Well I am getting sued for punitive damage which car insurence doesn’t cover. They claim I was on an electronic device. I wasn’t but now I will have to hire an attorney out of money I don’t have to prove this. Lets all grow up and realize that accidents do happen, and drivers will always get distracted.

  65. I was driving home today from the store behind someone who was weaving all over the road. When I finally pulled beside them at the light, it was a young girl TEXTING. Hope they enforce this law.

  66. To those who think texting while driving isnt’t a big deal, stop thinking you’re so special, important or talented. No one tries to read a book or magazine while driving because it’s foolish and damn near impossible. Texting is the same thing. Every time I’ve seen someone texting they are going way under the speed limit, swerving or about to cause an accident. Cars should have a feature to disable phone calls and texting while in motion unless there is blue tooth or voice text. A $30 dollar fine is a joke, it should be $500 IMO. Stop being so self righteous and stupid Ohio! Killing someone isn’t worth typing “lol”. Get your head out of your ass and be a responsible driver or take the bus.

  67. butt the police can use a laptop to look up your plates — double standard

  68. News flash: cops are allowed to go through red lights and stop signs, too. They’re called emergency vehicles. Believe it or not, even you are allowed to make an emergency phone call while driving. Instead of pointing your finger outward, point your finger inward and realize that following the leader is not the best way to drive. Try to make your own intelligent decisions about your driving behavior.

  69. Barbara Hill says:

    I am glad the law was passed, I don’t like to be behind someone who does not have their eyes on the road. Too many killed over texting and cell phone calls. If that messsages is so important then go to that person home and talk to them. Yes we have rigths but not to kill because we are so wrped up in our own world. Just becasue you are of driving age does give you the right ot drive.

  70. I drive everyday more than most people. Ever since the big boom happened with mobile devices I have seen it impact traffic. People are driving like 90 year old ladies. For ex, focused on the gadget while the light turns green and they have a 4-5 sec delay b4 hitting the gas and someone has to beep and wake their tarded butt up. Starting to notice larger than usual rear ends lately. This distraction causes traffic issues and jams because of slow response times. This law should be more aggressive. It will be no different than seat belt, cop says he seen you — it doesn’t matter if you had it on/off the judge is on his side always.

  71. Nickod777 says:

    I do wonder how they will enforce this for primary offense people under 18. I truthfully look like a 16 year old, even though I am 18. Indeed I was pulled over the other day for a cop wishing to issue a warning since the offense stuff isn’t on yet. I told him that I was 18, and showed license, he apologized for his interruption, then saw a lady doing it. She was 27, looked 16 to the officer somehow. He learned to base age off of looks and not looking at a license plate because kids could be driving their parent’s cars.

  72. Tom Hardin says:

    Distracted driving is so much more than texting, smart phones using navigation or surfing the Internet for any number of reasons. I’ve noticed phone cable and electric company’s employees with laptops MOUNTED permanently in their vehicles using these going down the road! I recently spoke with a AT&T worker servicing our home, and was told his company mandates computer usage while behind the drivers seat. In his words “they tell us not to” but “they don’t give us time or allow us to do it at the shop”. This issue is growing like a cancer in All directions, not just teens.

  73. Brandon says:

    Does this include a GPS?

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