Lakewood City Council is eyeing a measure that would take the state’s ban on texting and driving a step further.
While the ordinance remains in council’s public safety committee, city officials want to get some feedback from the public.
A public hearing is set to take place in the No. 2 lecture hall at Lakewood High School at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 13.
The event is open to the public.
Ward 1 city councilman David Anderson recently introduced the measure that would, among other things, make texting and driving a primary offense for adults.
That means, should the proposed city ordinance pass, that police could stop motorists just for texting while driving.
Right now, the state law makes texting and driving a primary offense for minors only.
"Establishing a Lakewood texting and talking ban as a primary offense would make drivers of all ages more aware that full time and attention incudes no texting and talking,” Anderson said in September.
Lakewood already has a “full time and attention” law on the books that allows police to stop motorists who text and drive, but the proposed new ordinance would make the law more “clear,” Anderson said.
“I find this notion very similar to a sobriety checkpoint where we do not just wait to see if a driver is swerving in and out of a lane,” he said in an address to council. “We also set up checkpoints to identify intoxicated drivers before they have an opportunity to harm others or themselves.
Even though the state law has already passed, no one will get ticketed just yet. There's a six-month grace period built into the law, and police won’t issue warnings until March 1.
But "texting" doesn't just mean thumbing in messages. It applies to reading, too — even checking your email, according to the law.
Research shows that using a cell phone has a comparable negative impact on one’s ability to drive as driving under the influence of alcohol.
According to the Ohio Highway Patrol, there were more than 31,000 automobile crashes in Ohio that were a result of distracted driving between 2009 and 2011.
Other Cuyahoga County communities including Beachwood, Brooklyn and North Olmsted have already fully banned the use of cell phones while driving.
According to the event posting on Lakewood Patch, testimony at the Dec. 13 forum may be submitted in person at the hearing or in advance via email.
Speakers will be limited to three minutes and are asked to sign up fifteen minutes in advance in the lecture hall.