Bexley City Council continued to debate a proposed ban on text messaging.
The ordinance would prohibit anyone operating a vehicle (including a bicycle) from using a cellular phone for any purpose other than sending and receiving calls.
If a police officer witnesses a driver texting while driving, the offender would be charged with a minor misdemeanor and fined at most $150, said Jed Morison who introduced the legislation.
Distracted drivers cause 78 percent of accidents, said Gahanna resident Sharon Montgomery who lost her husband nine years ago when a driver on a cell phone crashed into their car.
Tom Whiteman lost his daughter when a distracted driver hit the motorcycle that she was riding.
Whiteman said that, as part of an Ohio motorcycle group, he hears of about three fatalities a week due to cell phones.
Andy Teator of Hilliard read a letter to council from his older brother Joe who also supports Bexley’s proposal.
In 2004, a driver talking on a cell phone killed Joe’s young son.
For Montgomery, Whiteman, and Teator a complete ban on cell phones while driving would be ideal, but Bexley’s texting ban is a start.
Morison said in the future the city could consider a total ban on cell phone use while driving.
In the meantime, a few council members have questioned the need for the texting ordinance when the city already has a law prohibiting distractions while driving.
Enforcing the texting ban could also be a challenge.
"How do you know that the driver was text messaging and not just dialing their phone?" said Councilman Rick Weber.
Police Chief Larry Rinehart said if a driver causes an accident the cell phone is often tossed from sight before the police arrive.
Morison argued that just having the law on the books would make a difference because "parents will say to their sons and daughters or friends will say to their friends, ‘Hey, (texting) is against the law.’"
Council will decide on the issue at its Sept. 22 meeting at 7 p.m. in City Hall.
Other Bexley news
•Sidewalks in residential areas must be cleared of snow within one day of a snowfall or the property owners will face code enforcement fines.
If a resident is unable to comply with the snow removal ordinance due to disability or extenuating circumstances, the law allows for exceptions.
•From Sept. 14-25, College Avenue and Sheridan Avenue will be closed at Livingston Avenue for street repairs. Access from Main Street will remain open.
•Council agreed to purchase a parcel of land on Livingston Avenue adjacent to the community gardens for $22,500. Service director Bill Harvey said the city needed to buy a portion of the property as an easement to complete the Sheridan Avenue project.
The owner said he would charge $22,500 whether the city purchased just the easement or the entire property, so Bexley bought the entire property, Harvey said.
•At the Sept. 22 council meeting, representatives from Rumpke will be on hand to answer resident concerns regarding their trash collection.
•The first Artwalk of the season will be held Sept. 11 from 5-7:30 pm.
•The Schumacher Gallery at Capital University will feature a Civil War exhibit and at 7 p.m. The university will fire their Civil War era cannon, said Mayor John Brennan.
Art Access Gallery, Bryan Roberts Gallery and the Hammond-Harkins Gallery will also participate in the Artwalk, but without the Civil War theme.