Students fight for bill that would ban texting while driving

A group of Fremont students will continue their fight Wednesday to get Ohio lawmakers to ban texting while driving.

Toledo has a ban in place that prohibits texting while driving . Several other Ohio cities like Columbus and Cincinnati do as well. House Bill 99 would make it illegal to send or read text messages, or dial a cell phone, while behind the wheel of a vehicle in the state of Ohio.

Ohio Representative Rex Damschroder (R - Fremont) introduced the bill after working with the Vanguard students. Those students are scheduled to testify before a committee in Columbus.

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.

H.B. 99, which is cosponsored by State Rep. Nancy Garland (D-Gahanna), enjoys bipartisan support.

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.