June 23, 2024

Drive smart: New Ohio law ends phone use

A new distracted driving bill was put into effect in Ohio on April 4, 2023.

This law means that anyone operating a motor vehicle is prohibited to use or hold a cellphone. The law specifically targets those that make phone/video calls, text, stream or browse the internet while operating a vehicle. Alternatives include using a speaker, earpiece or wireless headset. Connecting your phone to the vehicle via Bluetooth is also a  safe and legal solution. 

Ohio’s new driving law remains in Section 4511.204 of the Ohio Revised Code. Gov. Mike DeWine had originally signed Senate Bill 288 on January 3, 2023.

Covering this issue was My Fox 28 Columbus, quoting DeWine saying, “Signing this bill today is a great honor because this legislation will, without a doubt, prevent crashes and save lives… Right now, too many people are willing to risk their lives while behind the wheel to get a look at their phones. My hope is that this legislation will prompt a cultural shift around distracted driving that normalizes the fact that distracted driving is dangerous, irresponsible, and just as deadly as driving drunk.”

The Ohio State Highway Patrol reported over 73,945 car accidents due to distracted driving since 2017. This bill urges drivers to become more aware of their surroundings and lower the risk of vehicular casualties. 

The following six months after the law went into effect will be considered a grace period to allow drivers to get used to the new law. Officers will pull over any drivers they see using their phones and issue a warning. After six months, the repercussions become severe. Once seen using a cellular device while driving, distracted drivers will be pulled over and receive a $500 fine and two points on their license. These points will remain on their license for up to two years. 

Digital highways show messages like “Phones Down. It’s the law.” This brings awareness and discourages drivers from acting in the now illegal behavior. 

University students have mixed reviews about this new law. Patrick Wiseman, a music education commuter, spoke to us about their thoughts on this new Ohio law. “What’s the point of adding a new law that’s going to struggle to be enforced when they’re struggling to enforce the speeding laws?” 

“The new law can make driving safer,” says Ethan Browning, the vice president of student government. Although Browning is for the creation of this law, he questioned the repercussions when a phone was used in an emergency. “There are emergencies where people may have to look at the map or call someone.” 

As they continue to work out the details of this new law, informing and urging  drivers in Ohio to be more cautious on the roads is necessary.

Author

  • Sagel Gurreh

    Sagel is a second year Communications & Philosophy major. She is Class Senator & Committee Chair in Student Government, an Exec for the Muslim Student Association and Creative Writing Club, and an Alternative RA. In her free time, she loves to write.

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