By Linda Dillman
On April 4, Ohio’s new Driving While Texting law limits the use of a hand held device to specific circumstances and becomes a primary driving offense for which police can pull over and cite a driver.
According to Madison Township Police Chief Gary York, conditions under which use is allowed include when a vehicle is stopped or parked at a red light, swiping a phone to answer a call, and holding a phone to their ear during a conversation.
Emergency calls are also permitted in all circumstances.
“When this law goes into effect there will be a six-month warning period,” said York during a March 28 Madison Township trustee meeting. “(after that) officers will then begin issuing citations.”
First time offenders can be fined up to $150 and receive two points on their license, unless they complete a distracted driving safety course. Second violations within two years can result in a $250 fine and three points on their license.
A third violation within two years could cost a driver a potential fine of $500, four points on their license and a possible 90-day license suspension.
“Put that phone down until you reach your destination,” said York.
According to the Ohio State Highway patrol, since 2017, there were at least 73,945 distracted driving crashes including 2,186 fatal and serious injury crashes.
Other Madison Township news
•The trustees approved a dispatching contract with the Franklin County Sheriff, which includes a $4.19 increase, through Dec. 31, 2024. The per call cost is now $15.99.
In 2022, township police officers handled 3,558 dispatched call at a total cost of approximately $41,984.
“Based on a six-year history, it is estimated that the police department will handle just over 3,800 calls in 2024,” York said. “Obviously, the agreement is necessary to receive those calls.”
•Trustees approved a request from the police and fire departments to submit a grant application to the Gary Sinise Foundation First Responder Grant Program for equipment or training.
“It’s a great foundation,” said veteran and trustee Chairman John Pritchard. “Gary Sinise does a lot for veterans and first responders as well.”
•Ten new part-time firefighters, including three certified paramedics, were hired effective April 3.
•Madison Township Administrator Susan Brobst was authorized to sign documents to participate in the Franklin County engineer’s 2023 township resurfacing program.
The contract includes resurfacing Marwick, Schwartz, Westwick, and Cross Keys roads at an estimated cost of $249,918. Public Works Superintendent Dave Watkins said the per square yard cost in 2022 was approximately $10. This year it is $15.96 due to rising asphalt prices.