Statewide texting while driving ban bill introduced

Toledo has a ban in place that prohibits texting while driving. Several other Ohio cities like Columbus and Cincinnati do as well. If one northwest Ohio legislator has his way, texting and dialing cell phones while driving will be against the law in the entire state.

State Rep. Rex Damschroder (R - Fremont) has introduced H.B. 99 that will make illegal to send and receive text messages or to to dial the keypad on a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. The bill is cosponsored by State Rep. Nancy Garland (D-Gahanna). The bill has not yet been assigned to a committee and no hearings are scheduled. The bill enjoys bipartisan support.

Texting or driver inattention has contributed to at least two fatalities in northwest Ohio. On April 10, 2010, off-duty Lucas County sheriff's deputy Kim Smith was killed when she lost control of her personal vehicle on I-75 near Phillips Ave. Police suspect that texting while driving contributed to the crash.

In Lima, Ohio, Jonathan Harp of Lima was traveling on I-75 and texting when he slammed into the rear of a tractor trailer at high speed. his seven year old daughter sustained serious injuries and his three year old daughter died in the crash.

Harp pleaded guilty to attempted vehicular homicide. He will be sentenced on March 29.

The bill calls for a six month phase in period when law enforcement officials will write only warnings. After the grace period expires, law enforcement officers are authorized to issue traffic citations for violations.

WNWO will host a special "Texting While Driving" show on Saturday, Feb. 26 beginning at 7:30 p.m. Be sure to watch this important and thought-provoking feature.