Ohio proposal would ban drivers from holding phones, devices

Terry Dawson, right, the son-in-law of a woman killed by a distracted driver in central Ohio on Christmas Eve 2017, describes how that accident has affected his family and made holidays much harder, at a news conference also attended by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. DeWine said he wants distracted driving made a primary offense and promised a legislative proposal soon. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)
Terry Dawson, right, the son-in-law of a woman killed by a distracted driver in central Ohio on Christmas Eve 2017, describes how that accident has affected his family and made holidays much harder, at a news conference also attended by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. DeWine said he wants distracted driving made a primary offense and promised a legislative proposal soon. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

Credit: Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Credit: Andrew Welsh-Huggins

A new legislative effort to crack down on distracted driving would make it illegal to drive in Ohio while holding a phone or any other electronic device

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Holding a cell phone or other electronic device while driving in Ohio would be illegal under legislation introduced Monday that takes aim at distracted driving by targeting not just texting but scrolling through social media and other hands-on phone uses.

Having an electronic device in your hand while behind the wheel would also become a primary offense, meaning police wouldn’t need another reason such as speeding to pull drivers over, according to the bill introduced by Rep. Cindy Abrams, a Republican from Harrison in southwestern Ohio, and Rep. Brian Lampton, a Republican from Beavercreek in suburban Dayton.

The bill would ban all hand-held uses of a phone, from sending a text to checking Facebook to punching in an address on a mapping app. It provides exceptions for first responders on their way to an emergency. It also includes a “one-swipe” exception to allow people to answer in-coming calls and then disconnect them.

The measure incorporates many of the concepts pushed unsuccessfully last year by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine and proposed again in this year's state budget.

Senate President Matt Huffman, a Lima Republican, previously expressed concerns about municipalities using such a law to generate revenue through ticket writing, along with worries about the law impinging on drivers' freedoms.

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This story was first published May 3, 2021. It was updated May 4, 2021, to correct the name of one of the lawmakers sponsoring a distracted driving bill. She is Rep. Cindy Abrams, not Stacy Abrams.

Colonel Richard Fanbro, Superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, discusses patrol efforts to reduce distracted driving accidents during the holidays, at a news conference promoting safe holiday driving and also attended by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. Fanbro said distracted driving is unsafe and irresponsible and can have devastating results for families of people injured or killed in distracted driving accidents. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)
Colonel Richard Fanbro, Superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, discusses patrol efforts to reduce distracted driving accidents during the holidays, at a news conference promoting safe holiday driving and also attended by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. Fanbro said distracted driving is unsafe and irresponsible and can have devastating results for families of people injured or killed in distracted driving accidents. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

Credit: Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Credit: Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Jack Marchbanks, right, the Ohio Transportation Department director, reflects on the damage caused by distracted driving in the state, at a news conference promoting safe holiday driving and also attended by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. DeWine said he wants distracted driving made a primary offense and promised a legislative proposal soon. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)
Jack Marchbanks, right, the Ohio Transportation Department director, reflects on the damage caused by distracted driving in the state, at a news conference promoting safe holiday driving and also attended by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. DeWine said he wants distracted driving made a primary offense and promised a legislative proposal soon. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

Credit: Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Credit: Andrew Welsh-Huggins

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