Friday, March 5, 2010

Sharon Montgomery continues her reports on proposed bans on texting while driving for Bexley Public Radio.

Montgomery discusses proposed Ohio legislation with WCRX-LP, 102.1 FM at Bexley lunch spot.


The third hearing for HB 415 was Tuesday March 2. Opponents and proponents were given the opportunity to testify. The director of the Northern Ohio chapter of the National Safety Council, the vice president of Consider Biking, and another victim testified as proponents. The president of the Ohio chapter of the American College of Surgeons sent in written testimony. Committee member Rep. David T. Daniels reiterated his concern about allowing a technology that truck drivers use. Other than that, the committee had no questions of the witnesses and have still expressed no opposition. There were no opponent witnesses!

An amendment is in the works and the next hearing, with possible vote, will be at 3:00 on Tuesday March 9. I will be there. It looks very hopeful that whenever the vote is held, it will pass. A few of you wanted to testify on the dates that got snowed out then had schedule conflicts. Looks like you have another chance. In my opinion, even if these committee members don't need any more convincing, the more facts and viewpoints they hear, the more they can educate and persuade their colleagues before the House votes.

SB 164 still hasn't been scheduled for more hearings. Chairman Tom Patton has not answered my two e-mails asking for his plans. I have explained that we would prefer to testify in open meeting but if we won't be allowed to, then we need to know that so we can send our information to committee members so they can make an informed decision. My own senator is on the committee but was absent for sponsor testimony and left early, before our witnesses spoke at the next hearing, to try to get an answer for me from Sen. Patton. I haven't gotten a reply to that e-mail, either.

The Columbus suburbs of Hilliard and Pickerington have been discussing this issue. Columbus is also looking at a ban on texting while driving. The consensus at Hilliard and Pickerington is that they would prefer the state to act but coming to the realization that waiting for the state might not be the best course of action so they each plan to discuss this in their next safety committee meeting. Each municipality allows public comments in committee meetings.

The Hilliard committee meeting is not yet scheduled but might be at 6 p.m. on Monday March 22. Pickerington's is at 7:30 on Wednesday March 17. Columbus's public hearing is at 5 p.m. on Tuesday March 9. IF you want to testify, you have to fill out a speaker slip before 5 p.m. If anyone wants to come to any of these three meetings and needs travel directions contact me. If you have specific concerns for committee members to address, let me know. Each of these cities is making a strong effort to learn the facts as well as the public's wishes. I'll be at all three meetings.

Word is getting around that the suburb of Bexley has issued no citations since their law went into effect a few months ago. A member of Bexley city council told me they were stopping texting drivers but only issuing warnings. If the law had said there would be a grace period of warnings while people learned of the law, that would be okay. But to say you'll cite then not cite is undermining the law. People won't take it seriously so fewer will comply.

The National League of Cities weekly newsletter of March 1 has an article titled, "Cities taking action against distracted driving." It didn't tell of specific city ordinances but was a good summary of recent federal action and statistics illustrating the dangers.

TV Channel 10 did a great job covering the Columbus announcement of a proposed texting ban. They reported the Columbus proposal and added an interview with me. They used it as teasers, referred to it at 6:00 as the "big story," and ran it at 5:00, 6:00, & 11:00. I was mistaken when I reported last week that only TV Channels 6 and 4 ran their stories of the February 23 hearing. Channel10 ran theirs on the early news before I got home but not on the late news or online.

I tuned in a few minutes early today and Oprah ended her show reminding people not to phone or text while driving.

My suburb, Gahanna, has one high school and it has an award-winning program for teaching TV (not teaching ‘by’ TV, but actually doing TV shows). One of those students will interview me Monday morning. I don't know if the interview will be for their cable TV show or whether he just wants informatino for a class report. Either way, it's great that another avenue is opening for the younger drivers to hear about this. One of the high schools in the suburb of Worthington had an event in which students took a pledge not to DWT. The suburb of Dublin had a road rally a couple years ago for students with various safety messages. It was supposed to include a DWP demo for the students to participate in so I went to watch. It wasn't DWP, it was DUI and I think it could have done more harm than good. Students wore glasses that distorted their vision in a way that is supposed to simulate the brain confusion of DUI while they drove a golf cart. The course they drove was very short and very easy so most did quite well despite the glasses. Lesson learned: DUI's not that big a deal? I think the rally is an annual event. I didn't have time to look into it last year to see if DWP/T was addressed and if so, whether it was addressed effectively.

Sharon Montgomery

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WCRX-LP, 102.1 FM, Local Power Radio
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Design is copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Bexley Public Radio Foundation. Text is copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Sharon Montgomery.

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