Thirty-one states require vehicles to display front license plates. That number will drop to 30 come July 1 unless Ohio lawmakers change their minds and save the plate amid pressure from police and school officials.
Last spring, House Republicans insisted on eliminating the plate as part of a conference-committee deal to pass the transportation budget. They cited aesthetics, the increasing use of sensors in front bumpers, and the desires of auto dealers.
Some legislators and Gov. Mike DeWine are pushing to save the plate by enacting Senate Bill 179 to reverse the prior decision, with the safety of students now added to the mix of concerns.
School officials warn that children will be endangered by motorists who whiz past stopped buses and increasingly elude apprehension unless lawmakers reverse course on the front plate’s scheduled July 1 demise.
Loss of the plate “would reduce the chances of identifying dangerous drivers who endanger our school children when they ignore warnings to stop for school buses,” said Melody Coniglio, president of the Ohio Association for Pupil Transportation.
Col. Richard Fambro, superintendent of the State Highway Patrol, told legislators that bus drivers, assisted by video cameras, “almost exclusively utilize the front license plate to identify violators” and report them to police. The lack of a front plate on offenders’ vehicles will make it “virtually impossible” to track down the drivers who blow past stopped school buses, said Fambro, whose troopers charge more than 600 such drivers each year.
We will keep watch on the push to reverse this decision and let you know.