AAA praises House passage of bill banning texting while driving

Ponca City Now - February 25, 2015 10:58 am

AAA Oklahoma is praising the Oklahoma House of Representatives for its action yesterday passing House Bill 1965, which would make texting-while-driving illegal in the state.

“In passing Rep. Terry O’Donnell’s bill, the Oklahoma House is sending a clear message to Oklahoma motorists that texting, e-mailing and updating social media pages behind the wheel is so dangerous, it should be and soon will be against the law,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “AAA commends state lawmakers for taking this bold step in such a convincing manner. Lives will be saved.”

The bill was passed by the Oklahoma House yesterday by a vote of 96 to two. Ten representatives, both Democrats and Republicans, signed on to join Rep. O’Donnell of Catoosa as co-authors of the legislation. The principal Senate author is Sen. Ron Sharp of Shawnee. Both O’Donnell and Sharp are Republicans.

“This is not a partisan issue,” said Mai, “it’s a safety issue. In survey after survey, our AAA members cite distracted drivers as a top threat on the highway. And the number one distraction behind the wheel is sending or reading digital communications on cell phones. The research shows you’re 23 times more likely to crash if you’re texting.”

During debate in the House yesterday, the bill was amended to name it for Trooper Nick Dees, the trooper who was killed Jan. 31 while working a wreck on I-40 by a driver who was reportedly using social media on his cell phone at the time he struck him.

Another bill to outlaw texting by drivers is also alive in the Oklahoma Legislature. Senate Bill 821 by Sen. Don Barrington (R-Lawton) is awaiting a hearing on the floor of the Senate. It was passed unanimously last week by the Senate Public Safety Committee.

Forty-four states have made texting-while-driving illegal. Oklahoma is one of the six which have not.

 

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