Yes the title of this article is a play on reckless operation. But I’m sure the person observed committing this act is guilty of at least reckless hair brushing. So here are the circumstances I witnessed that I am sure most all of my readers can give their own examples.

While driving northbound on Interstate 75 in Troy, I saw a white Jeep SUV in the middle lane and doing about 75 miles per hour. As a trained observer I started counting the violations the Jeep’s driver was doing.

As it was 0738 hours traffic was heavy and the Jeep had traffic on both sides, in front and behind. So the first violation that drew my attention was a failure to maintain control of the vehicle in its lane. The Jeep went over the white stripes on the right and would straddle both the middle and right lanes. The vehicle would remain there for about 30 seconds then move left back into the middle lane. Immediately the driver moved to the right and straddled both lanes. This maneuver happened four times between St. Rt. 55 and St. Rt. 41.

The violating vehicle not having tinted windows, I could see what the driver was doing. In her left hand was a burning stick of leaves and a smart phone. When the driver would put the burning stick in her mouth, she would let go of the steering wheel and brush her hair out of her face. Several times she put the burning stick in her mouth, holding it with her teeth and grab a handy brush off the dash board and begin brushing her hair.

As she talked on the phone, held her cigarette and brushed her hair she would extend her body to the right so she could look in the rearview mirror while brushing her hair, holding her cigarette and phone and not even give a thought to the traffic she was forcing to slow down or move over to keep her from hitting them while straddling the line.

Had I not been a retired police officer, this violator would certainly have been pulled over and given a reckless operation citation. There would have been no warnings. I would be willing to say that with the brush being ready at hand on the dash, this was not a onetime happening. Learned bad habits, as innocent as they seem, like brushing the hair, does constitute reckless operation when combined with all the other circumstances described.

Read the Ohio Revised Code concerning reckless operation and it is a very broad statute that only requires wanton or willful disregard for the safety of others. This may not have been as serious as the guy I stopped for using his transmission to stop his car at a red light because he had no brakes. Or the guy doing wheelies on his motor cycle while school was letting out but can be just as deadly.

4511.20 Operation in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property.

(A) No person shall operate a vehicle, trackless trolley, or streetcar on any street or highway in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property.

(B) Except as otherwise provided in this division, whoever violates this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to one predicate motor vehicle or traffic offense, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of two or more predicate motor vehicle or traffic offenses, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree.

Effective Date: 01-01-2004

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