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Beachwood's Texting Law: 5 Things You Should Know

Drivers caught using a cell phone could be ticketed, fined beginning soon

Beachwood City Council unanimously prohibiting drivers from using cell phones with their hands in the city.

Here are five things you should know about the new law if you drive in Beachwood.

The law takes effect in 30 days. That does not mean you should text while driving now, of course! It's important to note that officers already issue tickets for distracted driving to many drivers who are driving and using their phones, eating or applying make-up. Chief Mark Sechrist said that the law more clearly establishes rules for driving.

"It's important to definitively state that this is a dangerous action and it needs to stop," Sechrist added.

This is a primary offense. Unlike the Beachwood Police can stop drivers for using phones even if they have not broken any other traffic law - and it carries a $101 fine and a two-point penalty on your license. 

Most cell phone uses are banned. Basically, drivers must keep both hands on the wheel. They can use GPS devices if they are voice-commanded, and can talk on the phone with a hands-free headset - but don't dial with your hands or pick up the phone while you're driving, and definitely don't text, check your email or surf the web.

GPS devices count too. The text of the law specifically names cell phones and navigation systems, but prohibits "the use of electronic wireless communications devices while driving."

There are exceptions. Besides hands-free and voice commanded use, drivers may use cell phones in an emergency, and city employees (including police officers) may use devices if it's necessary to carry out their job functions.

Lauren S Lanphear June 20, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Most police vehicles now include a laptop mounted off the dash which appear to be open and active when I've observed them in Police vehicles on the road. How can it possibly be safe for police officers to use laptops while driving? Does this law restrict this use?
Nikki Ferrell June 20, 2012 at 03:51 PM
No, it doesn't - in fact, Beachwood Police Chief Mark Sechrist said that this is one of the exceptions to the law. I'll ask him to respond to your question, and get back to you soon!
Erik Wood June 20, 2012 at 08:16 PM
I read that 94% of drivers think Text and Drive is lethal but over one third still do it. What to do? I think legislation has value in raising public awareness in forums like this one but it will be difficult to solely legislate our way out of this issue. I just read that over 3/4 of teens text daily - many text more than 4000 times a month. New college students no longer have email addresses! They use texting and Facebook - even with their professors. Tweens (ages 9 -12) send texts to each other from their bikes. This text and drive issue is in its infancy and its not going away. I decided to do something about distracted driving after my three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver. Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the user, I built a texting asset called OTTER that is a simple and intuitive GPS based, texting auto reply app for smartphones. While driving, OTTER silences those distracting call ringtones and chimes unless a bluetooth is enabled. The texting auto reply allows anyone to schedule a ‘texting blackout period’ in any situation like a meeting or a lecture without feeling disconnected. This software is a social messaging tool for the end user that also empowers this same individual to be a sustainably safer driver. Erik Wood, owner OTTER app do one thing well... be great.
Pratik Patel June 20, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Bike riders can still listen to their music on their phone right?
Nikki Ferrell June 21, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Not sure, Pratik, but I imagine the same law applies - hit play before you get into traffic and don't touch the phone till you stop! But I'm not sure if wearing headphones is legal :) I'll find out more today.
Nikki Ferrell June 21, 2012 at 02:49 PM
The police chief is out this week, but I put in a call to the city to get a response to this. I should hear something soon!
Charlie Bolek July 18, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Does this law apply to GPS devices mounted on your dashboard?
Nikki Ferrell July 18, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Yes, Chris - Chief Sechrist said that drivers should not be pushing buttons on a GPS device while they're driving. He suggested setting it up before pulling into traffic, and if you have to reconfigure, pull over first.
Charlie Bolek July 18, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Is there a possibility that this law will at some point include changing the radio stations on your car radio (except if your controls are on the steering wheel maybe)? Not saying this to be flip but trying to thoroughly understand this new law.
Nikki Ferrell July 18, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Someone else has suggested that, too - but this law only applies to "wireless communication devices." You can see the full text here: http://beachwood.patch.com/articles/look-beachwood-s-cell-phone-law

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