No :) 4U ... Huron considers own text-and-drive ban

HURON Buoyed by research showing the dangers of texting while driving, momentum is building to outla
May 24, 2010



Buoyed by research showing the dangers of texting while driving, momentum is building to outlaw the practice.

Seventeen states now ban texting while driving, and Cleveland adopted a similar measure in April. A bill in the U.S. Senate would require all states to impose bans or lose federal highway funds.

The idea is also gaining attention locally. Huron city councilman Richard Wennes said he'd like Huron to consider its own ordinance if Ohio and the federal government don't take action soon.

"I know it's going to mean more work for the police officers and everything, but if it cuts down on accidents, injuries, fatalities, I'm all for it," Wennes said.

A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute recently reinforced the common-sense notion that texting while driving is dangerous.

The researchers found texting multiplied the risk of collision 23 times for long-haul truck drivers. In the moments before a crash, drivers often spent nearly five seconds looking at their phones or other devices.

Huron acting police Chief John Majoy said he would support a city ban on texting while driving, although it would be difficult to enforce.

"Any distraction while you're driving is a potential cause of a crash, and we want to reduce that as much as possible," he said.

Majoy and other law enforcement officials said cell phone use probably contributes to many accidents locally, but it's difficult to prove. Drivers aren't likely to admit what they were doing.

"My assumption would be that they don't want us to know that," said Sgt. Joe Wentworth of the Sandusky post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. "They're basically admitting that their attention wasn't completely on the road."

Wentworth said troopers know drivers are endangering themselves and others by texting, but they can't do anything about it without a law to enforce.

Erie County Sheriff's Capt. Paul Sigsworth said a texting ban might best be handled at the state level and perhaps should be extended to cell phone use in general.

Majoy, while agreeing that a statewide law would be ideal, said he could imagine emergency situations where limited cell phone use would be OK.

But, he added, "I can't see a bona fide situation where you would be driving down the road texting."