No swiping while driving

Ohio has new cell phone driving law.

By Pulse Staff

If you use a cell phone and drive a vehicle, there are new rules of the road to follow in Ohio. For some it just makes sense. For others, it will be a difficult habit to change. But the message is pretty simple. “Phones Down. It’s the Law.”

University of Findlay freshman Cat Graves is in the “just makes sense” camp.

“I feel like getting into accidents because you’re on your phone is so dumb,” Graves said. “It’s so preventable.”

While she says she’s never been in an accident due to distracted driving, she’s had some near misses.

“People would be like looking down at their phones and they would swerve into my lane,” Graves said. “I’d have to go into a different lane because they would almost hit me.”

UF sophomore Nicole Ellerbrock says it’s no surprise that people use phones in their cars.

“I feel like they’ve made it so easy,” Elleberbrock said. “You got charging ports in your car and everything to set your phone up, so it just makes it so convenient to use your phone while driving.”

But she agrees with Graves about potential dangers.

“I feel like there’s a lot of accidents caused because of phones or a lot of near misses,” Ellerbrock said.

The new law went into effect on April 4 and it is now illegal to use or hold a cell phone or electronic device in your hand, lap, or other parts of the body while driving on Ohio roads.

Now law enforcement can pull drivers over if they see them using their phone while driving. The Ohio Department of Transportation says in most cases, anything more than a single touch or swipe is against the law.

Graves has the same questions many other college students might have, such as the ability to use navigation.

“I know I can’t listen to where I have to turn off,” Graves said. “I have to visually see it. So, I have to look down at my phone to see where I’m supposed to be going.”

ODOT’s FAQ sheet states that drivers can view or operate a navigation system while driving as long as they’re not holding it in their hand or on their body while driving. Drivers can only activate, modify, or deactivate it verbally or with a single touch or swipe.

UF sophomore Caitlyn Noble works as part of a special court mandated program for teens in her home county, Ottawa County, called 4-H CARTEENS. They do a number of exercises with students including one that demonstrates the realities of distracted driving.

“We have one of the people participating in the program go through and sort cards and count down from a hundred. And that’s their driving tasks,” Noble said. “And then we throw a bunch of different distractions around them to see if they mess up. If they skip a number, that’s hitting a squirrel, or if they misplace a card, that’s hitting a mailbox.”

Violators of the new law face a number of consequences according to the ODOT website. They range from two points on the driver’s license and up to a $150 fine, to four points on the driver’s license and up to a $500 fine and a possible 90-day suspension of their license.

Graves and Ellerbrock both hope the law changes driving behaviors for the better in Ohio.

“Once you start hitting a pocketbook,” Ellerbrock said, “that’s when people will change.”