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Ohio’s ban on texting while driving is overdue

December 18, 2011
Morning Journal News

The Ohio Senate has been dragging its feet too long about instituting a texting while driving ban in the state.

Ohio House Bill 99, which would ban text messaging while driving and Ohio Senate Bill 35 which would prohibit the use of handheld communications devices while driving are both stalled in the Ohio Senate.

Now, maybe a strict recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board will spur Ohio legislators into action.

Currently there is no statewide limit on the use of cell phones or text messaging while driving in Ohio. In 35 states and the District of Columbia bans on texting while driving exist and nine states and D.C. bar cellphone use or emailing with hand-held devices.

Several Ohio cities - Toledo, Columbus, Delaware, Belpre, Berea, Zanesville, and recently, Wauseon - have grown tired of waiting for action from Ohio lawmakers and took it upon themselves to ban texting while driving in their municipalities.

On Tuesday, the NTSB urged all states to impose total bans on cellphone use except for emergencies. A total ban would include texting, emailing or chatting on a cellphone while driving, and would even include the use of hands-free devices. The NTSB recommends an exception for devises deemed to aid diver safety such as GPS navigation systems.

While the NTSB does not have legislative authority, its recommendations carry significant weight with federal regulators and congressional and state lawmakers. The NTSB is also urging those states which already have texting bans in place to begin enforcing them aggressively.

Enforcing bans on behavior which has become ingrained in our culture will be difficult and unpopular.

However, distracted driving is becoming a more deadly hazard than driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol.

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman summed it up correctly, "No email, no text, no update, no call is worth a human life."



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