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State bill that would boost penalties for road debris comes after News 5 investigation

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Posted at 7:01 PM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 20:23:59-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — An exclusive 5 On Your Side investigation could now be changing state law by boosting criminal penalties and fines for road debris on Ohio's roads and freeways.

News 5's original investigation first aired in February 2020 and was viewed Thursday during a hearing before the House Criminal Justice Committee where House Bill 27 would toughen penalties for failing to properly secure vehicle loads.

RELATED: New proposed law would increase fines, penalties for unsecured loads spilling onto Ohio freeways

Our investigation included my own experience as a victim of road debris that left me with a broken back and months of rehabilitation.

RELATED: Thousands are injured across Ohio by loads flying off vehicles

But we found thousands of others across Ohio have had similar experiences.

For example, we found 2,791 unsecured load violations contributing to 6,797 crashed over the last five years--killing six and injuring 715 others.

Even so, Ohio is among the laxest in the nation when it comes to fines and penalties for unsecured loads.

Currently, fines are fixed at no more than $150 dollars with no jail time--a minor misdemeanor.

By comparison, 28 other states have maximum fines from $500 to $5,000 while 16 other states include possible jail time.

Nationwide, a report by the American Automobile Association Foundation found road debris was a factor in more than 200-thousand reported crashed resulting in 39-thousand injuries and 500 deaths over a 3-year period.

House Bill 27, sponsored by State Representative Tom Patton, would boost criminal penalties by providing fines punishable by $500 and increasing to $2,500, including a jail term of up to 60 days if there is physical harm to a person or property.

The proposed legislation will undergo additional hearings and must be approved by both the House and Senate before the Governor can sign it into law.

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