NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio (WJW) — Front license plates will no longer be required in Ohio, under a new law that takes effect on July 1. However, school organizations are among those now asking lawmakers to overturn the law because they believe it will impact the safety of students.
One of the biggest issues facing school districts across the state is the disturbing trend of drivers ignoring the law and driving around school buses that are picking up or dropping off students.
Some districts, like North Ridgeville, decided to mount cameras on buses to catch the violators. In many cases, they are identified by their front license plates.
That’s why four statewide educational associations and a union representing school bus drivers, are asking the Ohio Senate to roll back the new state law that would eliminate the need for front license plates.
“A law like this, that would eliminate our ability to track down who that person was or for that person to receive a citation, is counterproductive to what part of our mission is for the district. And not because we’re out to play gotcha or try to get people in trouble, but because the safety and security of our students is one of our number one priorities,” North Ridgeville Schools Operations Manager Matt Yunker told Fox 8.
A number of state lawmakers and Governor Mike DeWine have indicated they support keeping front plates.
On the other side of the issue, supporters of the new law point out that five states that surround Ohio do not require front plates and car dealers maintain that by not having the front plates cars look better and are easier to sell.
However, community safety is the over-riding issue, according to the various school organizations and law enforcement agencies that are asking lawmakers to reconsider the importance of front plates in identifying lawbreakers.
“Look at some of the proof we have of having these front license plates has benefitted us. If we don’t have that ability, then it kind of puts us right back where we were of a guessing game or maybe people don’t get caught and therefore the situation doesn’t resolve itself,” said Yunker.
Despite an ongoing campaign in North Ridgeville to educate drivers about stopping for buses, this month alone, there have been 14 bus stop violations and in four of those cases, the car or truck did not have a front plate.
“So they either don’t get cited or we at the mercy of the bus driver trying to look in the rearview mirror to see if they can catch a license plate,” said Yunker. “It’s a continual communication campaign to enforce to the general public, please, please, please be mindful of our students, be mindful of the buses when you see them stop.”