CLEVELAND (WJW) – In a major move to stop distracted driving, Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 288 into law on Tuesday.
“Everybody was heard on this bill,” DeWine said in a Tuesday press conference before signing it.
“Every statistic has a family,” said Dom Tiberi, WBNS-TV Sports Anchor and cofounder of the Maria Tiberi Foundation, during the press conference. His daughter was killed in a distracted driving crash.
Among other provisions, the law allows police to stop drivers solely for “using, holding, or physically supporting” a cell phone while driving.
“I got my license about a week and a half ago,” said 16-year-old Athanasi Kotsanis, of Bay Village.
It’s a teenage milestone marked by a major legislative move to make distracted driving a primary offense in Ohio.
“I’m at a red light and I see everyone on their phones,” said Kotsanis.
There are a few exceptions.
Drivers would still be allowed to hold a phone to their ear when stopped at a red light, use speakerphone without holding the phone or holding a phone to their ears for calls, but not use text or typing.
According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, from 2017 to the present, there have been almost 74,000 distracted driving crashes.
Troopers said drivers ages 15 to 24 make up almost 40% of those crashes.
Before the bill was signed into law, police could only cite drivers for distracted driving after pulling them over for another offense.