COLUMBUS, Ohio — Holding a cell phone or other electronic device while driving in Ohio would be illegal under legislation introduced May 3. The legislation takes aim at distracted driving by targeting not just texting, but also 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. However, the bill provides exceptions for first responders on their way to an emergency, and it also includes a “one-swipe” exception to allow people to answer incoming calls and then disconnect them.
The measure incorporates many of the concepts pushed unsuccessfully last year by Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, and that were 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.