Gov. DeWine signs bill to strengthen distracted driving laws

Governor Mike DeWine signs bill strengthening distracted driving laws in Ohio
Governor Mike DeWine signs bill strengthening distracted driving laws in Ohio(The Ohio Channel)
Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 3:50 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 3, 2023 at 3:55 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 288 into law Tuesday morning in hopes of preventing people from driving while distracted.

SB 288, introduced by Senator Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville), makes distracted driving a primary traffic offense which means law enforcement can write a citation or stop a vehicle if they are suspicious of a person driving while distracted.

Prior to the governor’s signature, distracted driving was considered a secondary traffic offense which meant law enforcement could only issue a citation if there was another valid reason to stop the vehicle.

Primary Traffic ViolationsSecondary Traffic Violations
SpeedingAdult seatbelt violations
Driving through a red lightHeadlight violations
Failing to stop at a stop signViolations with a learner’s permit
Driving under the influence

“Signing this bill today is a great honor because this legislation will, without a doubt, prevent crashes and save lives,” DeWine said. “Right now, too many people are willing to risk their lives while behind the wheel to get a look at their phones. My hope is that this legislation will prompt a cultural shift around distracted driving that normalizes the fact that distracted driving is dangerous, irresponsible, and just as deadly as driving drunk.”

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, there have been over 73,000 crashes that were caused by distracted driving from 2017-2022.

Of those thousands of crashes, 584 were injury crashes and 68 were fatal in 2021-22, OSHP reports said.

“Certainly not all fatal traffic crashes are caused by distracted driving, but it’s no coincidence that evolving smartphone technology has coincided with increasing roadway deaths and injuries,” DeWine added. “Other states with similar distracted driving laws have experienced fewer fatal crashes, and we expect that this enhanced distracted driving law will have the same impact here.”

Within the Tri-State area, Kentucky is the only state without a primary distracted driving law.

SB 288 is expected to go into effect in 90 days.

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