Distracted driving bill needs toughened

Ohio House of Representatives members had the right idea in approving a bill that targets distracted driving. They did not go far enough, however.

A measure approved by the House in a 71-10 vote would allow police to issue tickets to motorists who use electronic devices such as cellphones while driving. Fines of $100 are provided. The bill targets a serious, growing problem. Motorists distracted from the road by cellphones and other devices contributed to nearly 14,000 vehicle crashes in Ohio last year.

Nationwide, nearly 10 percent of the 35,000 people killed in fatal accidents in 2015 were involved in crashes related to distracted driving.

But the House bill makes distracted driving only a secondary offense. In other words, police have to witness other offenses before they can issue tickets for distracted driving.

In neighboring West Virginia, they tried that. It didn’t work very well. Now, the Mountain State makes distracted driving a primary offense — the only one police need to spot to pull over a vehicle.

Ohio senators should amend the House bill in that regard. Doing so will save lives.

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