Dublin Villager

City to step up enforcement of distracted driving law

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In Dublin, police can pull over drivers for talking on a phone, texting or putting on makeup while driving.

Distracted driving has been a primary offense in Dublin since 2011, but the city this week announced a new campaign to put the brakes on distracted driving.

"Distracted driving is anything inside or outside the vehicle that causes a driver to take his hands off the wheel," Mayor Michael Keenan said during the Aug. 25 announcement.

According to Dublin Police Chief Heinz von Eckartsberg, police officers work every year to lessen crashes in the city.

"Distracted driving is one of the main causes" of accidents, he said.

In an effort to curb distracted driving, Dublin will increase enforcement and public education.

"We already do a lot of enforcement," von Eckartsberg said, adding that in Dublin distracted driving is a primary offense which means police can pull over a driver they see texting or doing something else that takes their attention from the road.

A ticket for distracted driving carries a maximum $250 fine and two points can added to a driver's license for the moving violation.

Since July 1, Dublin officers have stopped nearly 100 people for distracted driving and cited eight of them, von Eckartsberg said.

"Some were citations for other violations, some (people) got warnings," he said.

At least twice a week, Dublin police will focus distracted driving enforcement on high-crash areas that include the U.S. Route 33 corridor and Interstate 270.

Education will also come through a September town hall meeting and education at Dublin schools.

"We've really never stopped education efforts in the high schools," von Eckartsberg said. "The (school resource officers) at the high schools always work on this."

Dublin resident Dom Tiberi also addressed council this week when the campaign to end distracted driving was announced. Tiberi's daughter, Maria, died last September in a distracted driving accident.

"You don't choose this, it chooses you," he said. "We need to fight this epidemic ... . We need to educate our kids better."

Tiberi, a sportscaster at WBNS-TV (channel 10), created Maria's Message to educate people about the dangers of distracted driving and help teens learn about defensive driving.

"Taking a selfie to send your friends is not worth the pain my family has gone through," Tiberi said.

State Sen. Jim Hughes (R-Columbus) and State Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) attended the announcement meeting to show support for the renewed effort.

For more information about the new campaign, look online at DublinOhioUSA.gov/distracted-driving.

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