COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Holding a cell phone or other electronic device while driving in Ohio would be illegal under legislation introduced Monday that takes aim at distracted driving by targeting not just texting but scrolling through social media and other hands-on phone uses.
Having an electronic device in your hand while behind the wheel would also become a primary offense, meaning police wouldn’t need another reason such as speeding to pull drivers over, according to the bill introduced by Rep. Cindy Abrams, a Republican from Harrison in southwestern Ohio, and Rep. Brian Lampton, a Republican from Beavercreek in suburban Dayton.
The bill would ban all hand-held uses of a phone, from sending a text to checking Facebook to punching in an address on a mapping app. It provides exceptions for first responders on their way to an emergency. It also includes a “one-swipe” exception to allow people to answer in-coming calls and then disconnect them.
The measure incorporates many of the concepts pushed unsuccessfully last year by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine and proposed again in this year’s state budget.
Senate President Matt Huffman, a Lima Republican, previously expressed concerns about municipalities using such a law to generate revenue through ticket writing, along with worries about the law impinging on drivers’ freedoms.
This story was first published May 3, 2021. It was updated May 4, 2021, to correct the name of one of the lawmakers sponsoring a distracted driving bill. She is Rep. Cindy Abrams, not Stacy Abrams.