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Rep. McNally Introduces Legislation Aimed at Improving Safety Conditions at Ohio's Public Rest Areas

HB 473 would require installation of security cameras, assists law enforcement, combats human trafficking
April 17, 2024
Lauren McNally News

COLUMBUS – State Rep. Lauren McNally (D-Youngstown) today introduced House Bill (HB) 473, legislation requiring the maintenance of a system of security cameras at each rest area over which the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has jurisdiction, a total of 85 rest stops in Ohio.

“We want Ohio’s travelers and visitors to have a safe place to rest and take a break so they are refreshed and focused when they get back on the road. Cameras are a cost effective, public safety and crime deterrent tool that we must encourage the state to fully implement in these public spaces,” said Rep. McNally. “I’m proud to work on this legislation that helps law enforcement and advocates around the state who want a safer Ohio.” 

Numerous investigations of offense reports at rest stops statewide found that the most common crimes are locating stolen cars, drug use, sex crimes and thefts from cars. Furthermore, Ohio ranks fifth for human trafficking incidents, with studies suggesting that Toledo may be a national hubbub for the sex trafficking of juveniles. Truck stops and rest areas appeal to sex traffickers because they have transient populations and people are coming and going at all times of day. Cameras have been linked to deterring crime and solving crimes, all at an overall cost benefit to taxpayers. 

In May of 2023, Governor DeWine announced plans to renovate 33 rest stops over the next four years. While this news did not indicate if these updates would include the installation of cameras, HB 473 will require it. It will also require the Director of Transportation to consult with the Director of Public Safety and the Ohio Attorney General in determining an appropriate schedule for the installation and maintenance of the security cameras, not later than June 30, 2031.

“The Ohio Association for Justice supports legislation to require the installation of security cameras in parking lots at state owned rest areas. Cameras can provide a deterrence to criminal activity, a safety blanket for Ohio’s travelers, and necessary evidence when prosecuting crimes and damages such as human trafficking, tragic road issues and other random acts of violence,” said Chris Patno, President of the Ohio Association for Justice and Susan Petersen, Chair of the Ohio Association for Justice’s Women’s Caucus. “While we are pleased that Governor DeWine included security cameras in the administration’s rest area revitalization plans, cameras should be installed at all rest areas, even ones recently built or renovated. Prospectively, codifying this policy prioritizes traveler safety for many years to come.”

The bill now awaits assignment to a committee and first hearing for further consideration.