COLUMBUS — Ohio drivers could face more restrictions when using their cell phones if a bill introduced this week in the Ohio General Assembly is passed and signed.

Reps. Cindy Abrams, R-Harrison, and Brian Lampton, R-Beavercreek, proposed legislation that would expand the state’s current laws regarding texting and driving and make Ohio a hands-free state.

The plan implements a “single swipe” policy and prohibits people from holding or physically supporting an electronic wireless communications device with any part of their body, with some exceptions.

“A recent survey found that distracted driving is overwhelmingly the number one concern for Ohio drivers,” Abrams said. “The goal of this bill is to make our state a safer place to travel and reduce the amount of deaths and injuries on our roads.”

More than 91,000 distracted driving crashes happened in Ohio from 2013 through 2019, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Those accidents resulted in 47,000 injuries and 305 deaths.

“I’m honored to work with Representative Abrams on this legislation,” Lampton said. “With over 30 years of experience in the insurance industry, distracted driving incidents are something I am all too familiar with. This legislation will help prevent further tragedies from taking place on our roads and highways.”

Forty-four states have passed various distracted driving laws, Abrams said.

Using a hand-held wireless device is a primary offense for any driver under the age of 18 in Ohio. Using it for texting while driving is a secondary offense for adults, which means drivers must be stopped for another offense. There are no laws in Ohio prohibiting adults from driving while using wireless devices for other non-texting activities, such as watching or recording videos, taking or viewing photos, using apps, dialing a phone number or using GPS.

By J.D. Davidson

The Center Square