Victims' families join Kasich at signing of text bill

By MARC KOVACC-N Capital Bureau Published:

COLUMBUS -- Two years ago this month, David Muslovski was walking along a Youngstown-area roadway when he was struck and killed by a distracted driver. On Friday, his wife, Denise, and daughter, Tina Yanssens, stood in Gov. John Kasich's ceremonial office at the Ohio Statehouse and watched as the governor signed a new law prohibiting texting while driving. It's a good first step, the governor and the family agreed. "It would have been fine if it had been tougher... I would have signed it," Kasich said. "You have a legislative process. I don't think we're at the end of the road here. This is probably a beginning, and it's going to be a strong message to adults as well as young people." Yanssens added, "I think we need to get rid of texting altogether and go to hands-free units in order to make the roads safer. You still have dialing, you still have people looking for directions, so we need hands-free, similar to what the federal government already has in place for CDL truck drivers." House Bill 99 will take full effect in about nine months -- 90 days after the signing, plus a six-month grace period in which written warnings will be issued instead of citations. The new law bans drivers younger than 18 from using any type of handheld electronic wireless communications device. That includes talking on a cell phone or sending text messages, except during emergencies or if the car is parked. Teens will face a $150 fine and a 60-day license suspension for a first offense and $300 fine and one-year license suspension for subsequent offenses. Adult drivers also will be prohibited from texting while driving, though there are increased exemptions for using handheld communications devices, and the infraction will be considered a secondary offense, meaning officers could not pull drivers over unless they are caught breaking other traffic laws. "When we call or we text and we drive, we endanger the life of others," Kasich said. "You know, it's one thing if we endanger our own lives. It's another thing when we bring tragedy to families that, in all likelihood, could be avoided." Both Denise Muslovski and Yanssens said they didn't know whether the new law, if it had been in effect in June 2010, could have prevented the death of David Muslovski. "But our goal is that it will prevent the death of someone else," Yanssens said, adding later, "I don't want anyone else to go through what we've gone through. ... My dad's death was not in vain. Something good has come out of it."

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