Council members take second look at text ban
Some Pickerington council members may be rethinking their stance on the issue of a citywide ban on texting while driving.
During the March 17 safety committee meeting, individuals shared their personal stories of loss and pleaded for the city to enact such legislation.
Sharon Montgomery of Gahanna addressed the committee and some of the concerns previously raised.
The distracted driver that killed her husband and disabled another individual received only a $75 fine, she said.
"Some of you want to wait for the state to act, that would of course be preferable," she said.
However, she added, "the state legislature has had at least one bill on this issue every session since 1997. I don't hold much hope that they will act on the house bill (HB 415)," she said.
Montgomery also addressed the issue of education in driver's ed classes as suggested by Councilwoman Tricia Sanders.
"The problem with relying solely on education is, education tells us we shouldn't do this because we're likely to crash, but human nature tells us, it won't happen to me," Montgomery said. "So we're going to have to have a law that says you are not allowed to do this because you are likely to crash."
Education will increase compliance with the law, but it can't take the place of the law, she said.
Regarding Councilwoman Cristie Hammond's previous concern over enforcing the law, Montgomery responded "enforcement challenges are problems to solve, not reasons for inaction."
Montgomery also suggested that if the city pursues the ban and wants to include a grace period, it should be included in the ordinance.
She expressed concern over Bexley's law because drivers have gotten word that warnings are being handed out instead of citations. A specified grace period for driver's to adjust would be more effective, she suggested.
Montgomery also addressed the lack of statistics on crashes caused by mobile communication devices and said until a law is enacted, such incidents will continue to be mislabeled, therefore providing inaccurate statistics.
Tom Whiteman, of Reynoldsburg, lost his 28-year-old daughter Leslie in August 2008 in an accident caused by a distracted driver.
"Texting is so far off the scale on distracted driving, we need to do something about it," Whiteman said.
State Rep. Gerard Stebelton discussed what bills are pending in the statehouse, including House Bill 415.
Stebelton suggested that those who have a genuine interest in the legislation put pressure on their representatives.
He said personal letters and e-mails from the heart are what will get the attention of legislators.
After all witnesses spoke, Councilman Jeff Fix stated he failed to see what the downside is of putting a law like this on the books.
"If there is one (good reason), I'd love to hear it," Fix said.
Councilman Brian Sauer said he is finding himself falling on a different side of the issue.
"I definitely would support this at this point," Sanders said. "I think we should be proactive instead of reactive."
Whiteman argued that political subdivisions enacting laws will send a message to the state that not having a statewide ban is unacceptable.
No action was taken by the committee. Further discussion will be held during the next safety committee meeting on April 21 at 7 p.m. in Pickerington City Hall.
* The Service Committee approved a motion for rezoning a portion of Willow Pond subdivision from (C-3) commercial to (R-4) residential and the Ebright/Homestead parcels, located on Refugee Rd. from (R-4) residential to (PC-3) commercial.
* Councilman Brian Wisniewski requested a baseline speed study be done on Diley Road to see what speed traffic currently flows with the speed limit at its current posting. It was approved by the Service Committee.
* Discussion was held about conducting a future speed study on State Route 256. City Engineer Greg Bachman said he believes decreasing the speed limit is something to be considered.
* Bachman also said he plans to meet with several Pickerington Schools about unifying standards on the operation of lights and the appearance of signs in school zones.
* Marie Avenue resident Alan Cosmik addressed the Service Committee about the potential of extending Marie Avenue in the Manchester Station subdivision and updating the road. Cosmik asked the city to leave the street alone and gate it rather than investing the money to widen and pave it.