DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Ohio’s new distracted driving law goes into effect this week, which aims to make the roads safer for everyone by banning holding or using a phone or device to send texts, watch videos, or other dangerous distractions.
“If an officer sees you doing any of those things, they can pull you over,” AAA Public Affairs Manager Kara Hitchens said.
Ohio’s new distracted driving law goes into effect on Tuesday, April 4.
The law makes it a primary traffic offense for all drivers to use a phone or other device while a vehicle is moving, and if caught, it could come with a $150 fine and two points on your license.
“It’s advised that you pull over to the side of the road. Pull off the road and do those things at that time,” Hitchens said.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol reports there have been at least 73,945 distracted driving crashes in Ohio since 2017, more than 2,000 of those fatal or with serious injuries.
“Distractions are at an unprecedented level, and we want to make sure that individuals are realizing the dangers associated and that it’s a national problem, but it’s really affecting us in Greene County,” Greene County Public Health Health Educator Loressa Gonyer said.
This month the Greene County Safe Communities Coalition, which is part of Greene County Public Health, is joining in a distracted driving awareness campaign called “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All” to educate about the dangers of distractions on the road.
“The law is targeting every driver, but we really want to focus on the teen drivers as they are the highest population of distracted drivers,” Gonyer said.
There are some exceptions to the new law. Drivers can use their devices when parked or stopped at a red light. They also can answer a phone call and hold it to their ears while talking. Emergency calls are permitted in all circumstances.
Hitchens said it’s safest to drive without any distractions from your phone.
“We just ask people to do whatever you can do,” Hitchens said. “You know, if it includes putting a phone in the back seat so that you aren’t tempted to, you know, try to grab it then.”
The law comes with a 6-month grace period. During that time, officers will attempt to educate drivers to break distracted driving habits before issuing any penalties.