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Posted on: March 6, 2020

Distracted Driving Ordinance Will Take Effect April 1, 2020

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Canal Winchester joins municipalities across the country in passing legislation banning the hands-on use of phones and other communication devices while driving.  A Distracted Driving Ordinance (ORD 19-053), passed by Canal Winchester City Council in November 2019, will take effect and be in force from and after April 1, 2020.

Under the new law, drivers may be charged with a minor misdemeanor for hands-on use of an electronic wireless communication device (usually a cell-phone) while operating a vehicle.  Instead, drivers must use voice-operated or hands-free devices while driving.  Similar to Ohio’s proposed Hands-Free Ohio bill, the measure aims to decrease the number of motor vehicle accidents and improve the safety of drivers and pedestrians on roadways by discouraging distracted driving.

Frequently Asked Questions:

 How can I use my phone while driving?

Manipulating a phone or other device’s keypad or keyboard while operating a vehicle can distract a driver’s attention and cause accidents.  Use a bluetooth, speakerphone, or other hands-free system to operate your phone instead.  If you need to type phone numbers, addresses, or other information into your phone, please pull over out of the flow of traffic and make sure your vehicle is safely in a stationary position.

Can I use my phone in an emergency?

We recognize that emergencies happen.  In cases of emergency, using your phone or other wireless electronic communication device is permitted if you need to contact law enforcement, a hospital or health-care provider, the fire department, or other similar emergency agencies.

Why is this law taking effect?  What about other distractions?

Distracted driving of any kind puts you and others at risk for accidents which can cause injury or even death.  Statistics show that traffic accidents related to distracted driving have increased over the last decade.  Significant penalties for drunk driving have been put in place throughout the country, and stricter penalties for other forms of distracted driving are also expected to become more and more common.

If my phone is mounted, on speaker mode, or not in my hand, may I touch it while driving?

Dash-mounted and other cradle systems are commonly used for navigation or hands-free communication.  Single-touch operations such as swiping to answer a call, accepting GPS direction changes, or turning on voice-activation are permitted, provided that the phone is not in your hand.

Should I be nervous about this change?

Everyone can agree that distracted driving is dangerous.  Accidents happen, but they are less likely to happen if we work together to limit distractions and pay close attention to the road and other drivers.  If you are seen using a phone while driving – whether to send, read, or write a text message or to access the internet – chances are you could be ticketed.  Drive safely, pay attention, and don’t handle your phone while you’re driving.

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