While Ohio House Representative Nancy Garland does not represent our area, some of you have been following the texting ban issue and may find this release received via e-mail interesting concerning HB 415:
COLUMBUS – State Representative Nancy Garland’s (D-New Albany) legislation to ban texting while driving this afternoon was approved by the Ohio House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
“The bill approved today takes all the best concepts from previous texting bills and offers the most effective solution,” said Rep. Garland. “I am excited that we have taken this important step to make the streets and highways of Ohio safer.”
House Bill 415 will give law enforcement officers a straight forward method to determine and identify illegal activity by establishing a clear definition of texting. The bill also establishes a 6 month grace period to educate drivers and to ease the transition. Under the proposed legislation, texting while driving would be a primary offense and labeled a minor misdemeanor and offenders would receive a fine of up to $150 dollars. The law allows drivers to use text messaging if their vehicle is at a standstill and pulled off the road.
The cell phone industry reported that Americans send 110 billion text messages a month, 10 times the number sent over the same period just three years ago. Of 1,200 drivers surveyed in 2006 by Nationwide Insurance, 73 percent said they talk on cell phones while driving and 19 percent admitted to texting while driving. The dangers of texting are especially prevalent among teen drivers; sixteen and seventeen-year-olds contribute to 1000 of the yearly automobile deaths due to distracted driving including cell phone use, and a 2007 survey found that 46% of teenagers admit to texting behind the wheel.
The bill will next be scheduled for a vote by the full Ohio House of Representatives.