The grace period on Ohio's ban on texting-while-driving ends on Friday. Police officers will begin issuing citations and violators could be fined up to $150 for their first offense. The new law went into effect August 31, 2012 but state lawmakers allowed for a six-month grace period during which police officers issued warnings.
At Zanesville High School Wednesday, students took turns climbing behind the wheel of a car simulator. They put on special goggles and tried texting while driving. One after another, the students veered off the road, ran through red lights and struck pedestrians. The simulator was part of an awareness campaign sponsored by AT&T, AAA and the Ohio Highway Patrol.
Kennedy Frank, a senior at Zanesville High School, says she doesn't drive but as a passenger, she has taken phones away from friends to keep them from texting while driving.
"I take their phones a lot," Frank said. "I have to."
Her friends laugh, but admit that it's true.
Senior Allison Durant says her eyes have been opened and she has sworn off texting while driving. "I never texted that much - maybe like just an OK for my parents to let them know where I am, but not even that anymore," Durant said.
In addition to the fine, drivers under the age of 18 who get caught violating the law will lose their license for six months.
Lt. Matt Boyd of the Ohio Highway Patrol talked to students about how quickly things can go wrong when they take their eyes off the road.
"Statistics show that a person is taking their eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds when they're texting and 4.6 seconds at 55 miles per hour – you're traveling the length of a football field," Boyd said. "Obviously no one would close their eyes and travel the length of a football field at 55 mph, but subconsciously that's what people are doing when they're texting and driving."