Oklahoma Passes New Law Banning Texting-While-Driving

The state of Oklahoma has made the act of texting-while-driving illegal. House Bill 1965 is part of an effort to prevent more deaths due to distracted driving.

As of May 5, 2015, Oklahoma became the 46 th state in the country to ban texting-while-driving. Although the Oklahoma state legislature had taken measures in the past regarding distracted driving laws, there had never been a specific measure passed regarding the use of a hand-held electronic device and operating a motor vehicle. Prior to the passage of the new law, a person could technically drive their car while texting and law enforcement would not have the authority to pull over him or her for that specific act alone.

Fortunately, with this new texting-while-driving law finally being put into place, Oklahomans can feel more secure in knowing that they are in alignment with the majority of the country when it comes to a firm stance against texting and driving. The idea is to be proactive and deter people from this very dangerous behavior and hopefully save lives.

Creation of House Bill 1965 and the effort to save lives

The new law goes into effect November 1, 2015 and states: "It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle on any street or highway within this state while using a hand-held electronic communication device to manually compose, send or read an electronic text message while the motor vehicle is in motion."

The law can officially be referred to as the "Trooper Nicholas Dees and Trooper Keith Burch Act of 2015." This is in honor of the two Oklahoma state troopers who were tragically struck by a distracted driver. Instead of paying attention to the road, the driver was posting on to social media while driving. One state trooper was killed and the other seriously injured. It is tragic accidents like these that the law is attempting to help prevent.

Under House Bill 1965, texting-while-driving is a primary offense. This means that a police officer can pull someone over for this action alone as opposed to a secondary offense in which someone is being pulled over for an entirely different infraction. A single citation will cost the driver a $100 fine. There are certain exemptions under the law, particularly for emergency situations and for the purpose of communicating to an ambulance or hospital.

The risk is real when it comes to texting and driving

Such a simple act can have devastating consequences. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration ("NHTSA"), a person texting-while-driving is 23 times more likely to be in a wreck than someone who is not. In 2013, the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office reported that there were 14 fatal crashes and 602 injury crashes due to the use of an electronic device.

The risk and threat of being seriously injured or killed due to texting-while-driving is real in Oklahoma. If you or a loved one unfortunately suffered serious injuries or even death due to a distracted driver, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you.