State Representative Nancy Garland announced the passage of House Bill 99 out of the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee. This bi-partisan bill, which calls for a statewide texting while driving ban, is co-sponsored by Rep. Damschroder and was passed in House session on June 28, 2011 by a vote of 88-10.
In the Highways and Transportation Committee, a sub-bill was offered that amended H.B. 99 to prohibit the use of all electronic communication devices by drivers under the age of 18. The use of any electronic communication device by a minor will be a primary offense. The sub-bill changed texting while driving to a secondary offence for drivers over 18. Offenders would receive a fine of up to $150 dollars. The bill also establishes a 6-monthof grace period to educate drivers and ease the transition, as well as requiring the inclusion of the dangers of texting while driving in driver education courses.
“Texting behind the wheel creates a dangerous environment that puts the well-being of everyone on the road in jeopardy. This bill saves lives. With the new amendment, I am pleased that the use of electronic devices is prohibited for minors, which will undoubtedly make Ohio’s roads safer. However, I feel that making driving while texting a secondary offense will adversely affect the ability to curb this dangerous activity. Though this legislation is a step in the right direction, we need to go further to limit texting while driving,” said Rep. Garland.
Studies show that drivers are 20 times more likely to get in a crash or a near crash if texting or receiving text messages while driving. Drivers take their eyes off the road on average of 6.5 seconds when texting and driving. This is the same as driving the length of a football field at 55 mph with closed eyes. The National Transportation Safety Administration has reported that text-messaging while driving is 2 times more dangerous than drinking and driving. The reaction time of drivers who are texting is 35 percent slower than it is for marijuana smokers and 12 percent slower than it is for drunken drivers. We need to stop this dangerous behavior.
The bill now awaits consideration on the floor of the Senate.