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Ohio Bill Seeks to Ban Using Handheld Wireless Devices While Driving

Gov. Mike DeWine and supporters of bill
Jo Ingles
Supporters of a proposed bill that seeks to outlaw driving while using handheld wireless devices surround Gov. Mike DeWine.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol reports deaths on the state’s roads have increased in five of the past six years, and last year was the second-deadliest year in the past decade. This is why state leaders are backing a new effort to crack down on distracted driving.

Gov. Mike DeWine says a proposed bill would ban the use of handheld wireless devices while driving and toughen penalties for distracted driving. He says it would make driving while using phones and other similar devices a primary offense. Right now, he explains, the crime is only a secondary offense.

“That means that today, in Ohio, law enforcement can see a driver texting or emailing, but unless that driver commits another offense, such as speeding or running a red light, that officer can do absolutely nothing,” DeWine said.

The bipartisan bill has support from insurance companies and safety groups. Lawmakers have considered similar bills before but haven’t passed them. 

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.