By 1812Blockhouse

With over three months of enforcement having taken place, and with Ohio’s new laws concerning driving while using a cell phone now firmly in place, today, we take a quick review of this set of rules that govern motor vehicle operation.

A new era has dawned on Ohio’s roads, a campaign for safety first with Ohio’s “Phones Down” law. The legislation makes it illegal to use, hold, or even place a cell phone or electronic device on your body while driving on Ohio roads. The objective? To decrease the number of accidents caused by distracted drivers, making Ohio’s roads safer for everyone.

If an officer observes any violation of the new law, they have the authority to pull the driver over and issue a citation. The law emphasizes that drivers should have their eyes on the road, not on their screens.

For drivers over 18, the law provides some flexibility by permitting the use of hands-free devices. This includes using the speakerphone, wearing an earpiece, using a wireless headset, or connecting your phone to the vehicle via technologies like Bluetooth.

However, the law maintains that anything more than a single touch or swipe is prohibited. In essence, if you need to physically manipulate your device, it should be done while parked in a safe location.

Bluetooth & Integrated Systems Usage

The new law does not ban the use of Bluetooth or integrated systems within the vehicle. However, there are caveats. Drivers over 18 can make or receive phone calls using such hands-free technology, provided they don’t hold or support the device or manually enter letters, numbers, or symbols.

Off-Limits Activities

Under the new law, most activities involving the use of a device while driving are off-limits. Activities that are strictly banned include:

  • Dialing a phone number
  • Sending a text message (voice-to-text is legal via a hands-free method)
  • Updating or browsing social media
  • Making video calls or using FaceTime
  • Browsing the Internet
  • Watching videos (GPS/navigational displays are allowed)
  • Playing games
  • Recording or streaming video

The law allows drivers to use audio streaming apps and navigational equipment, but only if they turn them on before getting on the road or activate, modify, or deactivate them with a single touch or swipe.

It’s also important to note that drivers under the age of 18 are still prohibited from using their devices in any way, including using hands-free features.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are a few exceptions to the “Phones Down” law. These include:

  • Drivers reporting an emergency to law enforcement, a hospital, health care provider, fire department, or similar emergency entity.
  • Drivers holding a phone to their ear only during phone conversations, if the call is started or stopped with a single touch or swipe.
  • Drivers holding or using cell phones and other electronic devices while stopped at a traffic light or parked on a road or highway during an emergency or road closure.
  • First responders, such as law enforcement, fire, EMS, using electronic devices as part of their official duties.
  • Utility workers operating utility vehicles in certain emergency or outage situations.
  • Licensed operators using an amateur radio.
  • Commercial truck drivers using a mobile data terminal.

While the “Phones Down” law may seem restrictive to some, the primary goal is to increase driver safety and reduce the number of accidents caused by distracted driving. After all, the focus should be on the road, not on our screens. Safe travels, Ohio!

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