Texting-while-driving bill headed to Governor

Ponca City Now - April 29, 2015 5:32 pm

T he Oklahoma House of Representatives gave final legislative approval to a bill this afternoon making texting-while-driving illegal in Oklahoma.

The House had earlier passed House Bill 1965, sponsored by Rep. Terry O’Donnell. The Senate had made two amendments to the bill before re-sending it to the House to be reheard. The second vote in the House was overwhelmingly in favor of the bill.

“The fact that Oklahoma has a law banning texting behind the wheel will go a long way toward making our roadways safer,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “AAA is grateful to Oklahoma lawmakers for seeing their way clear to doing the right thing. And we also are indebted to Gov. Mary Fallin for making a texting law a central theme of her recent state-of-the-state speech.”

Oklahoma will be the 46th state to enact a texting ban when the law takes effect on Nov. 1, 2015.

“AAA first suggested the Oklahoma Legislature take a look at a texting ban in 2010,” said Mai. “Over the years, we’re tried to address the objections the Legislature had to a law, but what really helped convince them this year was the tragic death of Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Nicholas Dees."

Dees was struck and killed Jan. 31 while working a wreck on I-40 by a driver who was reportedly on his cell phone updating his social media pages. Trooper Dees’ death made it personal, Mai said.

Recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research found that nearly 60 percent of the teen crashes studied were the result of driver distraction, a much higher percentage than previously thought. AAA urges Oklahoma drivers to reduce all distractions behind the wheel and to put the focus on driving.

Oklahoma’s law will be primary enforcement, meaning law enforcement officers can stop drivers just for that one offense, and will carry a fine of up to $100.

 

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