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Rep. Lightbody's bill to curb distracted driving receives first hearing

HB 111 would improve road safety, save lives
May 11, 2021
Mary Lightbody News

COLUMBUS—State Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville)’s House Bill (HB) 111 to alter the use of handheld electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle received a first hearing in the House Transportation and Public Safety Committee today. HB 111 was previously introduced in the 133rd General Assembly as HB 468 where it received two hearings. 

“Keeping Ohioans safe on our roads is one of my highest priorities. I thank the Transportation and Public Safety Committee for bringing HB 111 up for a first hearing today.  HB 111 seeks to increase safety on Ohio roadways by making it a primary offense to use handheld electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle. The goal of the bill is to save lives and prevent serious injuries,” said Rep. Lightbody. 

“Today, I had the opportunity to once again present my commonsense solution to the problem of distracted driving. I hope that 2021 will be the year that Ohio finally becomes a Hands-Free state, and we agree to limit our use of navigation and phone calls only while driving so we can prevent any more tragedies.”

According to the Ohio Distracted Driving Task Force, 58 people were killed, 493 were seriously injured and over 7,000 were injured in nearly 14,000 distracted driving accidents in 2017. However, the task force also states that distracted driving is underreported because it is difficult to prove unless an officer sees it or the driver admits to it.

Within the City of Columbus, texting while driving is already a primary offense, which allows law enforcement to cite drivers when they are engaging in potentially dangerous usage.  Law enforcement officers across Ohio have found distracted driving to be an increasing problem that affects everyone on the road, including drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Ohio drivers of all ages can be seen texting, shopping online, watching videos, participating in video conferences, and scrolling through social media while behind the wheel.   

Rep. Lightbody has also drafted Sub. HB 111 that if accepted would add an ongoing public awareness campaign about the dangers of distracted driving, create data collection and reporting requirements related to traffic stops, and require implicit bias training should a law enforcement agency be found to have engaged in age, gender, or racial profiling.

HB 111 now awaits further consideration by the Transportation and Public Safety Committee.