By Jeff Gallatin
Government, school and business officials have been shifting gears recently in their efforts to make roadways safer.
Several of those officials took part in an assembly at North Olmsted High School earlier this month, where they encouraged students and staff to not text while driving. The presentation included a simulator and a video titled “The Last Text,” as well as comments from many of the officials involved.
In addition, North Olmsted City Council is moving forward on legislation that would increase the maximum fine for using a mobile or cellular phone while driving from $3 to $150.
In the May 6 assembly at the high school North Olmsted Mayor Kevin Kennedy, state Rep. Nan Baker, state Sen. Tom Patton and North Olmsted Board of Education member Linda Cleary joined interim North Olmsted schools Superintendent Terry Krivak, representatives of the Ohio Highway Patrol and AT&T external affairs Director Kevin Lynch.
“It was a powerful program,” Krivak said. “It made the point to the students about the dangers of texting while driving.”
Kennedy, Baker and Patton all spoke about how texting and driving is a bad mix, and how there needs to be a strong united effort by everybody to deal with the problems and potentially deadly consequences.
Officials said the practice session on the simulator and the video both seemed to make an impression on the assembly of students and staff.
Noting Ohio’s texting ban officially kicked in March 1 after the six-month grace period following the passage of legislation, government and highway patrol officials emphasized the point that texting can wait.
“Our goal is to save lives,” Lynch said. “AT&T applauds the efforts of the Ohio General Assembly – as well as Gov. Kasich – on their efforts to pass and sign into law House Bill 99, the statewide texting while driving ban, which took effect last fall.”
Lynch said AT&T will be providing additional resources to help combat texting while driving. For additional information and to take a “no texting while driving” pledge, go to www.itcanwait.com.
In City Council, Ward 3 City Councilman Paul Schumann introduced legislation after hearing from several people about the relatively low fine in North Olmsted for cellular or mobile phone use.
“It seemed like a no-brainer to me,” Schumann said. “This will help stop some injuries and save lives; it’s something we should be doing.”
North Olmsted safety/service Director Scott Thomas said the increase would put North Olmsted more in line with other communities.
“With the amount of cellphone usage of people while they’re driving and the resulting distracted driving, we needed to do something which will make people pay more attention to the roadway and less to their phone,” he said.
Thomas said the increase will make North Olmsted’s potential fine comparable to other cities instead of lower.
During discussion, council members considered passing the legislation on suspension to make it effective earlier.
However, when Councilman at Large Kevin Kearney noted giving it the full three readings would help draw more attention to the legislation, the other council members agreed with him. The legislation was scheduled for a second reading at council’s regular meeting last night.