Safer Travel

THE DAWNING of a new driving day.

Such is the case for Ohio motorists today, as House Bill 99 makes its presence felt. Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed H.B. 99 into law on June 1. The texting-while-driving bill took effect Aug. 31. However, there was a provision in the law that drivers were to be issued warnings only until a set expiration date.

That date is today and now law enforcement officers across the state can begin issuing citations.

It is a piece of legislation that some drivers may take exception to, seeing it as a nuisance. We, however, view it as an important safety device in today’s hi-tech society.

The law is more than just lip serve to offenders. It packs a bite, as well it should.

The law prohibits adult drivers from texting while driving. This includes sending, receiving and reading text messages. Violations are classified as a minor misdemeanor and are a secondary offense. Adult drivers must be performing another violation to be cited.

Teenage drivers feel a much more painful sting from the law. Teens are unable to send, receive or read text messages while driving. They also are not allowed to do so while sitting at a light or stuck in traffic. No phone calls either. While adults are not banned from making a call while driving, teens are.

Underage drivers cannot use computers or tablets, play video games or utilize a GPS that is not voice-operated or hands-free. For teens, the first offense will cost you $150 in fines and a 60-day drivers’ license suspension. Additional violations are $300 and come with a one-year license suspension.

Also, for teens, this is a primary offense. No other violations have to occur for teenage drivers to be pulled over for violating this law.

The new texting law is one that spawns more safety on roadways. How can anyone be upset by that?

When drivers take their eyes of the road, even for just a moment, the chance of an accident increases, possibly placing the driver, passengers and other motorists in avoidable harm’s way.

If House Bill 99 saves just one life, it justifies its creation.