BROOK PARK, Ohio — On Tuesday, the City of Brook Park has become the latest community to pass a new law to crack down on distracting driving.
"I constantly see people texting and driving, and the issues it causes on the streets,” said Mike Vecchio, Brook Park City Council President.
In recent years, city leaders in Cleveland and Akron have turned texting and driving into a primary offense, meaning drivers can get pulled over just for that. Many nearby suburbs have followed suit, including most recently Avon and as of Tuesday night, Brook Park.
“There may be a time, maybe in 5 [years] or sooner, where we won't need to be holding a phone, while driving a car, everything probably can be voice command," said Jim Mencini, Brook Park City Council member.
However, for now, texting and driving is still a big problem, despite those safer options.
In Ohio, the number of distracted drivers rose 5 percent in 2016, and grew 11 percent in 2015. Out of all distracted driving-related crashes, 38 percent of fatal crashes listed their distractions as emailing or texting.
Under Ohio State law, texting and driving is not a primary offense, but a secondary offense, so drivers can only get cited, if they break another primary offense, such as speeding.
However, dozens of cities in Northeast Ohio are adopting their own stricter laws. In those communities, drivers can be pulled over and cited, just for texting and driving. Most cities are now citing drivers $100 for their first offense.
“I think that by bringing this forward, allowing our police officers the ability to stop somebody from doing it, may save somebody’s life,” said Vecchio.