Most of us have probably received a text message riddled with grammar mistakes and misspellings. Part of the problem may have been due to laziness. But another potential reason might have been because the text was sent by someone who was texting while also trying to balance his hands on the steering wheel, barreling down the road.
Neither activity -- texting and driving -- can be done properly when the two are put together. But the lack of focus while driving the vehicle has the potential to end lives. But a lot of people still do it. In fact, more than half of high school students nationwide admitted to texting while driving, according to a recent study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Inexperienced drivers especially need to limit distractions when behind the wheel, yet that is the age group that is most likely to text while driving. Now, instead of simply discouraging the activity, driving instructors will be able to say that texting and driving is illegal. Eliminating distractions wherever feasible can go a long way toward keeping everyone on the roads safer.
Texting while driving has been a problem for years and as technology continues to expand and more and more people use cellphones, the problem has the potential to get even worse. From a legislative perspective, there is only so much that can be done. If people want to text and drive, then they will do so, and not much -- not even the law -- will stop them. But that does not mean that an effort should not be made to deter people from engaging in this life-threatening activity.
Governor Kasich recently signed into law a statewide texting while driving ban. More specifically, House Bill 99 establishes that texting while driving is a primary offense for anyone younger than 18. That means that an officer can pull over a minor simply because he or she was texting while driving, as opposed to requiring they are pulled over for something else first. First-time violators will receive a $150 fine and 60-day license suspension, and they will receive a $300 fine and have their license revoked for one year for any additional violations.
For citizens older than 18, texting behind the wheel is a secondary offense, meaning that they must first be pulled over for another traffic violation before being cited for texting. HB 99 does not apply to situations such as emergency and navigational use or for public safety vehicles in need of technology's assistance.
I am confident that the more people become aware of this law -- and the dangers associated with texting (or e-mailing, tweeting, Facebooking, etc.) while driving -- safety will improve on Ohio's roadways. When the law goes into effect, Ohio will become the 39th state to ban texting while driving, definitely a step in the right direction.
Rep. Landis may be reached by calling 614-466-8035; e-mailing District96@ohr.state.oh.us; or writing to State Representative Al Landis, 77 S. High St., Columbus.