I-Team looking into problems with no texting while driving law - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

I-Team looking into problems with no texting while driving law

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TOLEDO, Ohio -

Don't text and drive seems like a simple message.  But the 13bc I-team has found that message is not getting through and a new law to drive home the point might not have the impact you think. 

The law takes affect at the end of August and it sounds simple enough.  It's supposed to prevent people from texting and driving.  But enforcement will be tough and it turns out the law is different in different places.  Kids are in for a bigger change than they might imagine.

13abc I-Team cameras caught people clearly violating the Toledo distracted driving law in place since 2010.  In 2012, Toledo police officers have written a grand total of one ticket for texting while driving.  Only 14 have been issued in total since the law took effect. 

"The actual code itself isn't used that often here in the city of Toledo, but one of things that it does do is, and with the state law being drafted, is that it brings the attention to the issue," said Sergeant Joe Heffernan of the Toledo Police department. 

The biggest problem in Toledo is that the officer has to see you texting to write the ticket. 

"Most of the time when we're picking up the indicators that some kind of distracted riving is going on, by the time we end up pulling them over, whoever it is has shut off their phone and is not actively texting when we get up to the car," said Sgt. Heffernan. 

It turns out the state less is actually less strict because the state law makes texting while driving a secondary offense.  State troopers or police need to see you doing something else illegal before giving you a texting while driving ticket.

"It is a deterrent for the younger generation to stop being distracted while driving and pay attention to the roadway.  And that's what we need people doing," said Lieutenant Dean Laubacher of the Ohio Highway Patrol. 

So why isn't the state law stronger?  We asked the man wrote the bill, Ohio state representative Rex Damschroder of Fremont.

"The bill went to the senate and the senate decided to make it a secondary offense, it watered down a little bit," said Damschroder. 

A representative from the Ohio senate said the biggest issue was enforcement. 

"Even if it deters 50% of the people, that's gonna make a big difference.  The statistics are there, it'll save lives," said Damschroder. 

Younger kids will be really affected by the new law.  Deep in the law, it says "no holder of a temporary instruction permit who has not attained the age of eighteen years and no holder of a probationary driver's license shall drive a motor vehicle... While using in any manner an electronic wireless communications device." That includes just talking on the phone.  Some aren't sure even that will get kids attention.

"Honestly I don't think it will but it's better because some will be aware of it. Some will stop," said Andy Ruiz, a student beginning UT in the fall.

"They are driving a 5000 pound vehicle that they're going around a turn, making a simple right hand turn and someone walks out in the cross walk.  And they weren't paying attention to the person in the crosswalk that had the legal right of way.  And they hit them," said Lt. Laubacher. 

"The new drivers just don't have the reaction times and the instincts that the drivers with a couple of years under the belt have," said Sgt. Heffernan.

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