U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today commended Ohio Governor John Kasich for signing a new law that prohibits text messaging while driving.
"I commend Governor Kasich and the Ohio legislature for taking an important stand against the dangers of texting while driving today," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "While this new law will help keep all drivers safe, we are especially encouraged by its focus on young drivers, who are more likely to engage in distracted driving."
Ohio becomes the 39th state to prohibit texting behind the wheel by all drivers. The law takes effect 90 days after signing and warnings will be issued to offenders for the first six months. After that period, texting will become a secondary offense for adults and a primary offense for those under age 18. Adult violators will face a fine of up to $150. Teens who violate the law will be subjected to a $150 fine and have their license suspended for 60 days. Teens who are repeat offenders will be fined $300 and have their license suspended for a year.
Ohio and 38 other states, the District of Columbia, Guam and the Virgin Islands ban text messaging by all drivers. Ten states, the District of Columbia, Guam and the Virgin Islands prohibit all hand-held cell phone use while driving.
"We are making a difference in the fight against distracted driving through a combination of good laws, tough and consistent enforcement, and extensive public education," said David Strickland, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "Ohio is sending a strong message that it wants its young drivers to be distraction free."
In 2009, Secretary LaHood launched a national anti-distracted driving campaign to combat the growing trend of dangerous distracted driving behavior in America. To help further raise awareness, the U.S. DOT also launched Distraction.gov, a dedicated website that provides the public with a comprehensive source of information on distracted driving.
The Department has also hosted two national summits devoted to the issue, crafted sample legislation, which states can use to adopt distracted driving laws, issued several rulemakings banning texting while operating commercial vehicles and limiting the use of handheld cell phones, and initiated pilot law enforcement programs in Hartford, CT, and Syracuse, NY, modeled after the Department's successful efforts to increase seatbelt use and curb drunk driving. More information on the rules can be found at: http://www.distraction.gov/content/dot-action/regulations.html
In November 2010, the Department of Transportation announced "Faces of Distracted Driving," a video series featuring people from across the country who have been injured or lost loved ones in distracted driving crashes. To watch videos from the "Faces of Distracted Driving" series, and to learn more about the U.S. Department of Transportation's campaign against distracted driving, visit Distraction.gov.