BG to consider stricter ordinance for distracted driving

BOWLING GREEN, OH (Toledo News Now) - Texting and driving is now illegal in Ohio, but some cities believe the law does not go far enough. Bowling Green City Council is looking at passing a stricter ordinance.

Bowling Green has been playing with the idea for awhile. A few years ago, City Council presented a texting ban to the public, but people voted against it.

Now that Ohio has a statewide ban, Bowling Green said it is a good opportunity to fill in the gaps.

"I used to text and drive. And then there's a couple times where it was like close calls, and I've also seen people that have almost hit me because they're on their phones. So after that I was just kind of like, 'Um, maybe it's not a good idea to text and drive,'" said Margaret Vogel, a BG resident.

Lawmakers agree. That is why texting and driving is now a secondary offense in Ohio, meaning police officers can pull over someone, only if he or she is violating an additional law.

"It would be hard to tell, if you're driving, if someone's actually just calling, especially with the smart phones, they are touchscreen. So it's a little bit difficult to tell," said Vogel.

That is why Bowling Green City Council said it is looking at passing a full time and attention ordinance. The ordinance would allow police to pull over drivers for all forms of distracted driving, even if the driver is not violating any other law.

"This full time and attention ordinance would address that issue. Rather than picking on individual items, it just in general says you should be making driving your first priority when you're behind the wheel," explained City Councilman Robert McOmber.

For the city, it is a matter of public safety. Council members said distracted drivers can drive the length of an entire football field without even looking at the road.

The overall goal is to eliminate texting, but council members hope it will raise awareness about other distractions.

"If I take my hands off the wheel to gesticulate that something is this high and this wide, and I'm steering the vehicle with my knees for a few seconds, and I'm looking at the person, and I'm not paying attention to the road, yeah then I think you're probably in violation of an ordinance like that," said McOmber.

Council will discuss the ordinance at a meeting scheduled for June 18.

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