Ohio gets red light from traffic-safety advocates
Tuesday, January 19, 2010 2:54 AM
By James Nash
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
A group pushing for tougher driving laws across the country last week gave Ohio a failing grade, rebuking lawmakers for backing off from stronger seat-belt enforcement.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety gave Ohio and eight other states a "red" rating, the worst of the three on its annual report card.
Last year, Ohio got a "yellow," the middle ranking.
The state was dropped into the worst category largely because lawmakers decided against allowing police to cite drivers for failing to wear seat belts when it was their only traffic violation, officials of the advocacy group said.
Gov. Ted Strickland and the Ohio House had included the tougher seat-belt enforcement in the transportation budget last year, but the state Senate removed the provision.
In addition to the seat-belt rule, Ohio needs laws requiring all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, a minimum age of 16 for learner's permits, a statewide ban on text-messaging by drivers, and a requirement that convicted drunken drivers have ignition-locking breath testers in their cars, the advocacy group said.