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Ohio's new no texting while driving law starts Friday

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SYMMES TWP, Ohio - Starting Friday, Ohio will join the city of Cincinnati and the Commonwealth of Kentucky in having a ban on texting while driving.

The new law goes into effect throughout Ohio on Aug. 31.

So if you have a habit of texting behind the wheel, now is the time to break yourself of a dangerous practice. Everyone will be banned from texting or sending email while driving. That includes texting while stopped in traffic or waiting for a light to change. The new law is much stricter on teenagers below 18 years old.

For them, almost all forms of electronic communication and game-play will be banned under the new law. That means in addition to no texting, teenagers will not be allowed to talk on a cellphone. No reading of email, no playing of video games or using a GPS device (unless it is voice operated or hands free). Only emergency calls will be allowed.

Kentucky has had a similar law on the books for more than a year.  9 News wanted to know how often people in Kentucky are being cited for breaking that law.  Below is what we learned according to Kentucky State Police records.

The texting law started on July 1, 2011 in Kentucky and in the remainder of the year there were 313 texting citations given which resulted in 44 arrests by State Police.

So far in 2012 there have been 357 texting citations resulting in 42 arrests.

Many Ohio residents are in favor of the new law.

"What I understand is the leading cause of death is traffic accidents. So anything that can move in the right direction is a good thing," said Greg Huntington of Liberty Township.

"I personally think it's a great idea," said Elaine Hensley of Maineville. "Like the other day, going home from work, I just pulled out of my company and a guy in front of me was swerving all over the road and every car that was coming toward him, he almost hit them. It was crazy. And I got up beside him and he was texting."

While teenagers were reluctant to talk about the new law with 9 News, parents were more than willing. James Hutsel of Saint Bernard is both a parent and a firefighter. 

"I believe it's a good law cause of distracted driving," he said. "I've seen a lot of issues regarding kids and just driving down the street myself, you look and you notice somebody is driving kinda weird and roll up beside them and they are on the phone texting."

"I say absolutely. I'm all for it. Because I've been behind people. I travel Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia. I've been behind people and it's worst than drunk drivers. I mean it's crazy. So I'm all for it," said Madeira parent Denny Mitchell.

A six month grace period will be granted for Ohio drivers, beginning Friday. Drivers will be issued warnings and not fines.
    
Starting in March 2013, the first texting violation could cost you as much as $150. For teenagers, it could mean their license gets suspended for 60 days.

For more information on the new law, visit http://bmv.ohio.gov/texting_ban.stm

Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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