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Ohio governor renews push for distracted driving crackdown

February 8, 2021 GMT
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Terry Dawson, right, the son-in-law of a woman killed by a distracted driver in central Ohio on Christmas Eve 2017, describes how that accident has affected his family and made holidays much harder, at a news conference also attended by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. DeWine said he wants distracted driving made a primary offense and promised a legislative proposal soon. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)
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Terry Dawson, right, the son-in-law of a woman killed by a distracted driver in central Ohio on Christmas Eve 2017, describes how that accident has affected his family and made holidays much harder, at a news conference also attended by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. DeWine said he wants distracted driving made a primary offense and promised a legislative proposal soon. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is renewing his effort to make distracted driving reason enough for police to pull someone over.

DeWine’s proposal would address such activities as writing, sending or looking at texts, watching or recording photos or videos, or livestreaming while handling an electronic device, among other activities.

DeWine said Monday he’s including the measure in his executive budget proposal. The governor backed similar legislation last year that failed to become law.

The proposal would make handling an electronic device a primary offense, meaning police wouldn’t need another reason first — such as speeding — to pull drivers over.

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Exemptions would include using a phone to place an emergency call or using hands-free functions to talk on the phone or dictate texts.

“Distracted driving is a choice that must be as culturally unacceptable as drunk driving is today, and strengthening our current laws will lead to more responsible driving,” DeWine said.

Traffic deaths on Ohio roads have increased in six of the last seven years, according to the State Highway Patrol.