Distracted drivers could face more penalties under proposed House bill

Provided via Ohio Department of Development (Photo by Chris Kasson)

Drivers sending a text or finding the right Snapchat filter could face an additional $100 fine if pulled over for a moving violation.

House Bill 95, proposed by state Reps. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, and Jim Hughes, R-Upper Arlington, on Feb. 27, enhances the penalty for moving violations if the driver was distracted on a smartphone. Violators would have to pay a $100 fine in addition to other fines.

Athens Police Department Chief Tom Pyle said although texting and driving is “horrendous,” he is unsure if the bill would actually change anything.

“I just don’t know,” he said. “Unless you make absolute standards that are unquestionable, it’s tough to enforce. … So how do you know what a person’s doing, in Ohio, on that phone? Unless you dive into pretty significant investigative technique and … subpoena the records and find out the times. That’s a lot.”

More than 80 percent of drivers cite distracted driving as a serious problem that makes them feel less safe on the road, according to the annual AAA Foundation Traffic Safety Culture Index, yet in a CDC report analyzing data from 2011, 69 percent of people said they talked on the phone while driving within a month of participating in the research.

“I think that it’s … particularly heinous because it’s just unnecessarily reckless,” Pyle said. “No text to say, ‘Meet me at Chipotle’ is worth hurting someone or hurting yourself. … And I see it all the time.”

More than eight people are killed and 1,161 are injured in crashes that involve a distracted driver each day in the United States, according to the CDC.

“It really freaks me out when I see other drivers next to me on their cell phones because it’s putting myself in danger, and if they could just stop at a stop light or pull over to send the text that would be so much more beneficial,” Emily O’Flynn, a sophomore studying journalism, said.

Cell phone addiction is a big problem, Emily Krause, a junior studying organizational communication, said.

“We have (our cell phone) all the time,” she said. “There needs to be new laws implemented to help stop people from doing that.”

The bill was referred to the Transportation and Public Safety committee March 7.

@AbbeyMarshall

am877915@ohio.edu

Originally published for The Post on March 28, 2017.

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