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Texting while driving proposal could make Akron safer

Texting while driving has been a major issue on U.S. roadways for many years, and it shows no signs of decline, given the ubiquitous nature of cell phones. Society has forever changed with the advent of cell phones and smartphones, and as a result the laws have had to shift accordingly.

Ohio was slow to react to the dangers of texting while driving, but a state ban was finally put in place late last year. The ban makes texting while driving illegal for all drivers -- but it is considered a primary offense for drivers at or under the age of 18, and merely a secondary offense for those older than that. This means that older drivers need to commit some other infraction for the police to pull them over.

Akron city officials are not a fan of this seemingly light law; so they are proposing that all drivers be treated in the way 18-year-olds (or younger) are treated under the state law. If the proposal goes through, any driver in Akron that texts and drives would be subject to a primary offense.

Now, there are certainly some issues with expanding the texting while driving ban. Namely, it expands police power -- giving them probable cause to pull a driver over if they appear to be texting. That could mean anything: a driver's head tilted down or a shining light in the car could give an officer reason to suspect texting while driving. Certainly, there will be some criminal defense issues.

But the ban could be a huge victory for public safety, while emphasizing the illegal and negligent act of texting while driving.

Source: Akron Beacon Journal, "Akron getting mixed reaction to proposed texting-while-driving legislation," Stephanie Warsmith, Jan. 28, 2013

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