New Ohio distracted driving law prohibits texting, pets

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MANTUA, Ohio (WTHR) – In less than a month, a new distracted driving law will go into effect in Ohio.

The new law states that writing, sending or reading text messages as well as using a cell phone for internet use while driving will be illegal.

In addition to cell phone use, lawmakers in Ohio will also include holding pets while driving as a distracted driving offense. Holding animals or keeping them on your lap while driving can be a distraction from safely operating a vehicle.

For the first offense, the violation will be considered a misdemeanor. If a driver is convicted of a second offense within a year or if a violation of this law results in a vehicle collision with personal injury, the offense will be considered a third degree misdemeanor.

Under this law, using a cell phone to make a call or in conjunction with hands free or bluetooth device is not illegal.

The Mantua Police Department said in a Facebook post, "The topic of Distracted Driving is an ever growing problem."

The department went on to share in their post that, "According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHSTA) and the US Department of Transportation (USDOT), there were 3,450 people killed by Distracted Driving in the Year 2016. That's approximately 9 people per day in this country that die as a result of distracted driving. To break it down even further, that's one person every 2 1/2 hours that dies from distracted driving."

The new distracted driving law will go into effect December 20 in Mantua, Ohio.

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