The will soon begin enforcing a law that prohibits drivers from using cell phones and GPS devices with their hands while on the road.
the law is one of a few in this area that is stricter than the state’s ban on texting for drivers. Chief Mark Sechrist said that he had waited for the state law to be approved before proposing a city law, but that the state law does not go far enough.
Under Beachwood’s law, drivers may only use cell phones if they are talking on a hands-free headset or using GPS with voice commands. Even answering the phone while the car is in traffic can draw a citation.
The law goes into effect July 18.
Beachwood’s law allows officers to stop drivers they spot using phones or GPS with their hands while driving even if no other traffic offense is observed.
signed earlier this month by Gov. John Kasich, adult drivers can only be cited for texting while driving if they have already been stopped for another offense. Drivers under the age of 18 can be stopped for using their phone with their hands at all.
But the state laws allow cities to enforce stricter laws within their borders.
Sechrist told City Council that police departments in other cities with a similar law did not report a significant change in the number of citations issued.
“It was illegal to drive and be distracted,” said Sechrist. “It’s important to make the statement definitively and make it clear how dangerous this is.”
Police may already pull over drivers for distracted driving — like, perhaps, if they are looking at their phone, applying makeup or eating, and weave or sit at a stoplight after it turns green.
Beachwood’s law treats everyone the same.
“If it’s dangerous for a 25-year-old to text, then it’s dangerous for someone under 18,” said Sechrist.
Council members asked staff to ensure that large, clear signs that notify drivers of the ban are posted at the city’s borders.
Do you agree with the ban? Tell us in the comments!
*Editor's Note: The original version of this article reported that this law would be enacted July 19.