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Bill would ban young Ohio drivers from using devices

Published: Thu, May 3, 2012 @ 12:08 a.m.



By Marc Kovac



Teens would be banned from using cellphones or any type of hand-held electronic communications device while driving, under legislation making its way through the Ohio Senate.

Under the new version of House Bill 99, 16- and 17-year-olds would be prohibited from “using any electronic wireless communication device, except in the case of emergency,” said Sen. Tom Patton, a Republican from Cleveland and chairman of the Senate’s Highways and Transportation Committee. “This bill specifically includes [tablets, laptop computers and other] electronic devices. ... We’re banning any electronic device for those 16- and 17-year-old minors.”

The committee added the prohibition Wednesday, and the bill appears to be headed for a floor vote soon. The Ohio House OK’d the legislation in June.

Amended House Bill 99 would allow adults to use GPS units, cellphones and other hand-held devices, as long as they are not being used to send text messages.

For adults, texting while driving would be a secondary offense, meaning law enforcement could not issue a citation unless they have cause to stop a driver for other violations.

For minors, using electronic communications devices while driving could result in a $150 fine and a mandatory 60-day driver’s license or permit suspension for first-time offenders and a $300 fine and one-year suspension for repeat violators.

Patton said legislation is focused on stopping people from sending text messages while driving but not other activities, prompting Sen. Capri Cafaro, a Democrat from Liberty, to question whether newspaper readers would be affected.

“Does it necessarily mean reading The Youngstown Vindicator on the phone while driving, because it’s not email?” she asked. “The definition of write, send or read text-based communication basically says you can’t write or read or send text messages, instant messages or email. So, this behavior only applies to text messages and email but not, for example, typing in www.Vindy.com while I’m driving and then reading the newspaper.”

Patton responded, “I think we’re doing a texting bill. I don’t think we’re going a bill that is going to prohibit people from reading the newspaper.”

Wednesday’s committee hearing included testimony from three people whose loved ones were killed by distracted drivers, including Denise Muslovski from the Youngstown area. Her husband, David, was struck by a car while walking along a road.

Muslovski read testimony written by her attorney, Scott Cochran of Youngstown, who could not attend Wednesday’s hearing.

“I think there should be legislation that makes it illegal to text and drive,” she said, adding later, “If an offender chooses to voluntarily distract themselves by texting and driving and it results in serious physical harm or death, they should be treated the same as a voluntarily intoxicated person would be.”


1NoBS(2845 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

It's a start, but how about banning EVERYONE from using these distracting devices while driving? Let's face it - a good number of people behind the wheel out there have trouble driving in a straight line on an empty road in broad daylight. They don't need the added distraction of blabbing on the phone or anything else.

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2doowoptokidrock(325 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

My feelings exactly NoBS

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3VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

I have seen people backing out of their driveways while talking on their cell phones. Also, while changing lanes, sitting at traffic lights, pulling up to a gas pump and eating while driving and talking on their cell phones! They walk into a store while talking, shop while talking and check out while talking and their conversations are about nothing...absolutely nothing. When they get home, they probably don't even remember their day! Its like they were sleep walking all day long!

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4redeye1(5678 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Next time you people pass a police car , check it out. I'll bet you will see more police on their cell phones while driving then you will want to believe. I just hope this bill passes.

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5Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

redeye: Is there a law that prohibits Police Officers from talking on a cellphone? Why does everyone bash the Police is beyond me. My past, I hated cops, but since my stay with the State, I come to appreciate what they do considering what they deal with on a DAILY basis. I wouldn't have the patience.

vindy: Great comment! And so true!!

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6300(573 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

It's actually pretty infuriating that this Patton guy wants to have legislation that only applies to other people. Pretend that he's tough on irresponsibility, but then add language that only applies this to teenagers (since presumably Mr. Patton would like to continue to talk and text on his cell phone while driving).

What's wrong with the GOP today? At one point, this was the party of the educated elite. Today, it's the party of arrogant knuckleheads who seem to sweat hypocrisy. This "do as I say, not as I do" is also evident within the Democratic party, but I haven't seen examples like this one by them in the recent past.

Ban cell phones entirely while driving, not just the demographic who can't fight back.

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7CountryGirl51(232 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

If your going to ban phones for 16-17 yr olds, why not make it for everyone ! It makes it just as dangerous for a 18 yr old and a 40 yr old. Or how about a 70 yr old when your reaction time is lowered with age. Just doesn't make sense to me ! If your going to go for it.. GO FOR IT !!

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8UsuallyBlunt(105 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

I have driven over 2 million miles professionally! I can drive backwards, in tow faster and more accurately than most people can drive forward in their sedans...I CANNOT DRIVE SAFELY WHILE TEXTING, (yes, I have tried)! No one should be exempt from this rule!

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9ErikWood(11 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

I read that 94% of drivers think Text and Drive is lethal but over one third still do it. What to do? I think legislation has value in raising public awareness in forums like this one but it will be difficult to solely legislate our way out of this issue. I just read that over 3/4 of teens text daily - many text more than 4000 times a month. New college students no longer have email addresses! They use texting and Facebook - even with their professors. Tweens (ages 9 -12) send texts to each other from their bikes. This text and drive issue is in its infancy and its not going away.

I decided to do something about distracted driving after my three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver. Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the user (especially teens) I built a tool called OTTER that is a simple GPS based, texting auto reply app for smartphones. It also silences those irresistible call ringtones while driving unless you have a bluetooth enabled. I think if we can empower the individual then change will come to our highways now and not just our laws.

Erik Wood, owner
do one thing well... be great.

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