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Law needs tough penalties for texting behind the wheel

November 22, 2011
Salem News

Ohio should enact a ban on motorists using cellular telephones or other devices to send text messages. On that, virtually all traffic safety experts agree.

But some leaders in the General Assembly don't want to proceed with such legislation. "You cannot legislate common sense," commented state Senate President Tom Niehaus. Existing laws on reckless driving cover "texting" behind the wheel, another lawmaker added.

No, government certainly cannot legislate common sense. But that never stopped it before. Hundreds of state and federal laws, such as those requiring seat belt use in vehicles, do just that.

And as far as reckless driving laws, they indeed should cover "texting." Perhaps local law enforcement agencies and the Ohio State Highway Patrol should charge more texters with reckless operation.

But a variety of laws, such as those that ban driving left of center, also fall under that category. In the past, legislators have enacted bans on specific offenses for good reasons.

Politicians always worry about upsetting constituents - such as those who text while driving. This is a case in which a ban would be appropriate, however - and would save lives.



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