Ohio State Highway Patrol release dash cam of a driver looking at the phone while driving
Looking at a text, switching to a new playlist, or checking social media can all wait until you are done driving. Now an Ohio bill heading to the governor's desk looks to crackdown on distracted drivers.
The legislation would make it a primary offense to hold and look at your phone while driving. Meaning you could get pulled over by police and face a fine. Local 12 asked driver Anthony Hudson if he was in favor of the legislation.
"We should be careful, and we should always bring awareness to being more careful, but for it to be criminalized I think there are too many other issues we could be dealing with other than that," said driver Anthony Hudson.
Local State Representative Cindy Abrams helped introduce the legislation. She says after some changes, the bill does include safeguards for people who get pulled over.
"They have to let you know if they ask to see your phone you have the right to say no and if your car is stopped you absolutely can use your phone and look at it," said Abrams.
She says the governor is expected to sign the bill, and after he does, there will be six months of distracted driving education and warnings before the law is enforced. After that, you get one more chance to avoid a fine by taking a class.
"Okay, fine, now you get pulled over, and the law is in effect. The first time is essentially a warning, so go take the online class again. It's not about punishing people, but if you keep driving distracted then, of course, it's an actual fine," said Abrams.
"To me, a class is still an inconvenience to a person's life when people may just have a quick moment of glancing at a phone. What if you see me looking at the time and criminalize me? A class still inconveniences my life in some way," said Hudson.
According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, from 2013 through 2019, Ohio saw more than 91,000 distracted driving crashes, 305 of them deadly.
"This is not about punishing people or writing tickets, this is about changing our behaviors behind the wheel," said Abrams.
Forty-four states have already passed some sort of distracted driving law. Local 12 also asked about the potential for profiling. Police will have to record information about each person they pull over and it will be put in a database for review.
The governor has about 10 days to sign this bill into law.