PARMA, Ohio (WJW) — Ohio’s newest traffic law is now in effect. It is illegal to be operating a vehicle while being distracted by a cell phone.
City of Parma police are already working to enforce the new law, cracking down on distracted drivers who are texting, scrolling or even taking selfies.
Sgt. David D’Eusanio, who oversees the traffic unit, met with officers on Tuesday morning to go over the specifics of what’s acceptable and what’s a violation.
“So now, if we’re viewing a motorist driving by and they’re on their phone and their fingers are moving it’s probable cause to make a traffic stop,” D’Eusanio said.
As a primary offense, this can be the sole reason for a traffic stop. The offense carries a $150 citation, but initially, traffic violations are being handled with grace.
“We’re gonna be issuing warnings only, so we’re gonna try to stop and educate,” D’Eusanio said. “All the motorists in the city of Parma here — we’re giving them some literature, because we want them to understand what the law says.”
City of Parma patrolman Thurston Viosine said the big takeaway here is to make sure drivers understand their role in keeping roads safe.
“The fourth-leading cause of death in the United States is traffic crashes,” Viosine said. “If distracted driving is one of the hugest parts of that, that’s obviously what we feel is concerning, and why we’re kind of grateful that this law came into play.”
Parma police are hopeful that common sense can prevail to help save lives.
“Just remember: It’s not worth it,” Viosine said. “Take a few extra seconds to pull over, go ahead and make that text message when you’re safely not on the road, moving, or go ahead and make that phone call. Those few seconds could make the difference between injuring somebody or killing somebody or not.”
More information about the new law can be found on the Ohio Department of Transportation website.