Councilman: Ban on cell phone use while driving could be next
Texting while driving is already illegal in Bexley.
It falls under an ordinance prohibiting any distractions while driving, but Councilman Jed Morison feels a separate law is still necessary.
If a new law is passed, family members and friends will have another tool to stop their loved ones from making a potentially deadly mistake, Morison said.
"Frankly my hope is that parents become the chief educators and enforcers of this," Morison said. "It seems like good common sense that when your hands are off the wheel and your eyes are off the road, it's a disaster waiting to happen."
The new ordinance prohibiting texting while driving could be in place in early September, if the council passes the law by emergency at its Sept. 8 meeting.
At a later date, the council will consider expanding the ordinance to possibly ban all cellular phone usage while driving, Morison said.
"I do not want to hold-up the texting ban for the lengthy discussion that could apply to cell phones," Morison said.
A study by the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTA) published in the July 20 New York Times shows drivers using hand-held phones increased their risk of an accident by 1.3 times while talking and three times while driving.
Gahanna resident Sharon Montgomery knows first-hand the danger.
Almost nine years ago, her husband was killed when a driver on a cell phone hit their car. She suffered life-threatening injuries and the driver of a third car became permanently disabled.
"I just want to commend you for proposing this," Montgomery told Bexley council members July 28. "We have 17 years of research telling us that driving while phoning is more dangerously distracting than other driving distractions and is as dangerous as drunk driving, which we prohibit because of the danger."
Several states and many cities have laws banning cell phones and/or texting while driving, but Ohio does not. Bexley would be the first community in Central Ohio to implement such a law, Montgomery said.
No state laws ban the use of hands-free phones, Montgomery said.
The NHTA study found "little, if any, difference between the use of hand-held and hands-free phones in contributing to the risk of driving while distracted."
"Phone conversations are distracting," Montgomery said. "Any 2-year-old knows to get into trouble when mommy's on the phone. You are providing a great public service and creating a great legacy."
Those found to be in violation of the proposed law would be charged with a minor misdemeanor and would be fined $150.
^ back to top