OHIO VALLEY — A ban on texting while driving goes into effect today throughout the state of Ohio.
On June 1, Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 99 into law, banning the use of some electronic devices while behind the wheel of a car.
For drivers over the age of 18, it will be illegal to use a handheld electronic wireless communications device to write, send or read a text message while driving.
A violation will be a minor misdemeanor which could result in a fine of up to $150.
For adults, texting will be a secondary offense, meaning the driver would have to be pulled over for another offense such as speeding in order to receive a ticket for texting.
The law is stricter for drivers under the age of 18.
Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited to use any electronic wireless communications device while driving. This includes texting or talking on cell phones, Bluetooth, Bluetooth speakers, On-Star or similar devices.
Also prohibited for drivers under the age of 18 is the use of computers, laptops, or tablets, e-mail, video games or a GPS unless it’s a voice-operated or hands-free device. Exceptions are allowed for the use of a pre-programmed GPS, vehicles in a stopped and outside the lane of traffic, and emergency calls to law enforcement, hospital or fire department.
For drivers under the age of 18, a violation of the law will be a primary offense, meaning the driver can be stopped for the use of any prohibited device. A first violation would result in a $150 fine and a 60-day driver’s license suspension. Repeat violations would result in a $300 fine and a one-year driver’s license suspension.
A recent survey of the motoring public by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 35 percent of motorists of all ages admitted to text messaging while driving. Nearly half of drivers ages 18 to 24 admitted to text messaging while driving.
Currently, 39 states and the District of Columbia have laws that address text messaging by all drivers. Some Ohio cities ban texting on a primary basis and those laws will take precedent due to Ohio’s Home Rule laws.
According to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle website, texting while driving takes your eyes off the road for approximately five seconds. At a speed of 55 miles per hours, that would be equivalent to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.
West Virginia passed a law regarding the use of cell phones while driving earlier this year.
Beginning in July, texting while driving became a primary driving offense and talking on a handheld cellphone a secondary offense.
In July 2013, talking on a handheld cellphone will become a primary offense.