Teens may face stricter driving laws

ST. CLAIRSVIILE – Ohio teens who recently obtained a drivers licenses could now have to follower stricter laws, not only with texting and driving, but curfew as well.

House Bill 204, which is sponsored by Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek, has presented several new and stricter laws based off the recommendations of several safety groups.

The following limitations listed in this house bill for teen drivers, ages 16 – and 17 – years- old, will tighten the laws on how many teens are in a car with a teen driver as well as when teens can drive.

The proposed bill would limit passengers that are in the car with a teen driver to family members and other licensed drivers at least 21 years old. The curfew will be moved from midnight to 10 p.m., unless the teen is going to or coming from school or work.

Texting and driving has been an issue for some time, though it goes beyond just teens.

In Ohio, teens are not allowed to use cell phones while driving and adults are not allowed to text and drive, but they are allowed to talk on a cell phone and drive. In West Virginia, you must pull over to talk on a cell phone or send a text.

Many smaller towns have been enforcing this rule already, before the law was passed. Martins Ferry, for an example, has had an ordinance in affect for some time.

“We had a city ordinance (before the no texting ban),” said Martins Ferry Police Chief John McFarland. This ordinance came about when Martins Ferry Police pulled over a driver and questioned him on his driving habits.

The driver confessed to texting and driving, which warned a citation and the beginning of the ordinance.

Ferry is not alone in this crack down, Shadyside, who does not have an ordinance in place, has been pulling people over for the same thing.

“Basically it is just common sense, texting and driving takes your total concentration away from driving the vehicle, it’s just dangerous,” said Shadyside Police Officer Don Collette. “I have issued so warnings for texting and driving during school pick up last year. We are not going to let it go, it’s dangerous and needs to stop.”

Van Dyne can be reached at kvandyne@timesleaderonline.com.