Teenagers today are constantly reminded not to “text and drive” by parents concerned about safety. But with the initiation of new driving laws in Ohio, teens now have another reason to stay off electronics.
A new state law went into effect Aug 31, and prohibits anyone from sending, reading, or writing a text message while driving. While it has been illegal to do such in Cincinnati since Oct 2010, this law has additional rules that limit teenagers specifically.
“I don’t know if this law will make a huge difference, but I think it will definitely make people more conscious about their driving,” Reading Police Officer Todd Owens said. “Research links numerous deaths to driving-while-texting, so I agree the law is a good idea. Officers won’t be going out solely to look for drivers that are texting; however it’s easy to spot and they’ll be monitoring it more.”
Using electronic devices while driving is now listed as primary offense for teens, meaning that a police officer only has to see electronics being used to pull a teen over. As is stated in Cincinnati Enquirer Editor Randy Essex’s article “Texting Banned,” it is now illegal for drivers under 18 years old to:
• Write, send, or read a text
• Talk on a cellphone, including Bluetooth and OnStar devices
• Send or read an email
• Use computers, laptops, or tablets
• Play video games
• Use a GPS- The law clarifies that GPS devices can still be used as long as the destination is put in ahead of time and the device is hands-free.
“I think this law is good because it stops people from texting, but I don’t like the part about using a GPS,” senior Maria Clark said. “I think teenagers will be paranoid about getting caught, so they’ll start printing out directions to read, which is more dangerous.”
Through Feb . 31, teens pulled over for violating this law will only receive a warning. However, after this initiation period the punishments will increase to a $150 fine and 60 license suspension for the first offense, and a $300 fine and one year license suspension for additional violations.