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

HB 468 would save lives
May 19, 2020
Mary Lightbody News

COLUMBUS—State Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville)’s bill to alter the use of handheld electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle received a second hearing in the House Transportation and Public Safety Committee today.

“HB 468 is one of the most important pieces of legislation that I have introduced during this General Assembly, and I thank the Transportation and Public Safety Committee for bringing this bill up for a second hearing today.  HB 468 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, two women spoke about the devastating loss of their husbands in two separate traffic accidents that happened nearly twenty years apart.  I am grateful for their courage and willingness to share their stories, and for the other proponent testimony that was offered in written format.  I hope that 2020 will be the year that Ohio finally makes using your smartphone while driving a primary offense so we can prevent any more tragedies like the two we heard about today from happening to anyone else. ”

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, distracted 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 and pedestrians.  Drivers are engaging in not only texting, but watching videos and scrolling through social media while behind the wheel. 

HB 468 now awaits further consideration.