COLUMBUS, Ohio — Student transportation and law enforcement officials are questioning the safety of the state’s plan to remove the requirement for front license plates on vehicles, The Columbus Dispatch reports.
Under the new state transportation budget that was signed into law in April, the newspaper previously reported, Ohio will join 19 other states in doing away with a mandate for the front plates, prompting their disappearance from more than 13.2 million vehicles. State House Republicans pushed for the removal of the requirement citing the growing use of sensors in front bumpers, and concerns, including those voiced by auto dealers, about aesthetics, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
However, police officers, sheriffs, and prosecutors have said that loss of the plates will hinder their ability to gather clues to solve crimes and identify criminals, the newspaper reported in April.
Pupil transportation officials are joining them in the fight to keep the front plates on all vehicles. Melody Coniglio, the president of the Ohio Association for Pupil Transportation, told The Columbus Dispatch that removing the plates will lower the chances of identifying reckless motorists who “ignore the warnings to stop for school buses.” Additionally, Col. Richard Fambro, superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, told lawmakers that bus drivers, assisted by video cameras, “almost exclusively” use the front plate to identify offenders and report them to police.
The Ohio School Boards Association participated in the ninth annual National Stop-Arm Survey conducted by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) on March 20, 2019. The 4,145 bus drivers who participated in the survey found that slightly more than 1,500 motorists illegally passed school buses. The drivers hailed from 183 school districts across the state, the Ohio School Boards Association told School Bus Fleet. As SBF previously reported, the survey found that more than 95,000 motorists ran stop arms across the U.S. in one day.
Meanwhile, some lawmakers, along with Gov. Mike DeWine, proposed Senate Bill 179 in July, which would maintain the requirement for two license plates on all vehicles. Sen. Jay Hottinger, one of the bill’s cosponsors, told The Columbus Dispatch that “you cannot look at the data and come to any other conclusion but this is a significant crime-fighting tool.” The bill was referred to the Transportation, Commerce, and Workforce Committee in September.