Ohio’s primary enforcement push

Ohio legislators are being asked to rush through a toughening of the state’s texting law before their two-year session ends in under two months.

Texting & driving lawmaker State Rep. DamschroderState Rep. Rex Damschroder, author of the state’s 2013 texting law, seeks to upgrade the ban to primary enforcement, meaning police can stop and cite all drivers for that offense alone. Currently, only teen drivers are subject to primary enforcement.

Secondary enforcement has been widely cited by Ohio law enforcement as a reason the texting law is ineffectual — a common complaint in states with that limit on distracted driving laws.

Police complain they have to make an on-site determination if a driver appears to be under the age of 18 before making a stop for texting & driving.

Damschroder’s House Bill 637 also would bar use of wireless communications devices such as smartphones in school zones and roadway construction areas.

The Fremont Republican originally sought primary enforcement status for Ohio’s original texting law, but the Senate heavily amended the original House proposal to include weakened enforcement.

Lawmakers return after the November election. “We as legislators have an opportunity to strengthen this law by making texting while driving a primary offense,” Damschroder said. “It is my sincere hope that my colleagues in the House and Senate recognize that this change is needed and that we can pass the bill by the end of the year.”

Damschroder’s term expires in December. He is chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

Read more about Ohio’s distracted driving laws.

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