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Ohio unveils public awareness campaign about strengthened distracted driving law




Photo Credit: ODOT

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, along with other officials, has announced a new public awareness campaign aimed at drawing attention to Ohio’s strengthened distracted driving laws.

Beginning on April 4, 2023, it will be illegal in most circumstances for anyone in Ohio to use or hold a cell phone or electronic device while driving. The new educational campaign encourages Ohio drivers to ‘Lock Your Screen Before You Rock the Road’ and includes a range of materials such as billboards, posters, fact sheets, and social media, radio, and television advertisements.

The law designates the use of cell phones and other electronic communications devices while driving as a primary traffic offense for all drivers and allows law enforcement to immediately pull over a distracted driver upon witnessing a violation. Under the previous law, distracted driving was a primary offense only for juvenile drivers.

The law includes a 6-month grace period in which law enforcement will issue warnings as part of an effort to educate motorists about the law changes.

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, distracted driving has caused at least 60,421 crashes and 209 deaths in Ohio over the past five years, although distracted-driving crashes are believed to be significantly underreported.

Exceptions to the law include allowing adult drivers to make or receive calls while using a hands-free device, use GPS if they begin navigation before getting on the road, and holding a phone directly to their ear for a phone call, but devices may only be activated with a single touch or swipe while driving. Adult drivers are also permitted to hold or use electronic devices while stopped at a traffic light or parked on a road or highway during an emergency or road closure.

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