By WAYNE ALLEN
PDT Staff Writer
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Tuesday called for the ban on the use of cell phones while operating a motor vehicle. This is the first time a ban like this has been recommended. Ohio has a similar measure under consideration.
Earlier this year the Ohio House of Representatives passed House Bill 99 that would ban texting while driving in Ohio. If enacted the bill would “prohibit drivers from using an electronic communications device to write, send or read a text-based communication while the vehicle is in use.”
89th District State Representative Dr. Terry Johnson said at the time of passage, “as the former Scioto County coroner, I know this all too well, and say that this (texting while driving) is simply unacceptable,” Johnson said in a released statement. “Every life is too precious to put at risk in this way.”
AAA has undertaken a national initiative to advocate laws in all 50 states by 2013 that would ban texting while driving.
“Texting while driving is the most dangerous of all distractions behind the wheel. It is very encouraging that the Ohio House recognizes the danger,” Brian Newbacher of AAA said about the passage of HB 99.
A AAA survey found that 24 percent of motorists of all ages admitted to text messaging while driving. Nearly half of drivers ages 18 to 24 admitted to text messaging while driving.
According to AAA, 93 percent of its Ohio members support a statewide ban on texting while driving.
AAA says 33 states and the District of Columbia have laws that address text messaging by drivers.
HB 99 is currently in the Ohio Senate Highways and Transportation committee. According to Steven Alexander, Johnson’s Legislative Aide, the bill had its last hearing Nov. 16. There is no indication on when it will come up for a vote and be considered by the Senate. If HB 99 is approved by the Senate it will be sent to Gov. John Kasich for his consideration.
If passed, HB 99 will take effect six months after it is signed into law. Until then, warnings can be issued, where law enforcement will provide information about the new law. After it takes effect, fines of up to $150 can be issued.
Cities across the state have enacted similar measures. Toledo, Columbus and Cincinnati have enacted legislation that bans texting while driving.