Oklahoma Legislators Pressured To Ban Texting While Driving
There is increasing pressure on Oklahoma legislators to pass a law banning texting while operating a motor vehicle. While past legislative initiatives have failed, public support for such a law is growing as evidence of the dangers of sending text messages while driving accumulates.
In addition, pressure on the state’s elected representatives is mounting due to the fact that Oklahoma is a member of a rapidly dwindling group of states still resisting legislative action on this much-discussed road safety issue.
As concern about car accidents attributed to distracted driving intensifies, calls to ban texting while driving in this state are expected to become even louder.
Evidence accumulates that using a cell phone while driving is unsafe
An article in the Stillwater News Press cites evidence of the impact of cell phone use by drivers – either texting or talking – on road safety. Of the approximately five million car accidents nationwide in 2011, the National Safety Council estimates that 25 percent involved cell phone use.
In addition, a 2005 study published in the journal Human Factors determined that using a cell phone while driving is more dangerous than driving while inebriated. In fact, drivers using cell phones reacted 18 percent more slowly to traffic situations requiring braking than did drivers who exceeded the legal blood alcohol limit.
While talking on a cell phone and driving is risky, the director of the Oklahoma Safety Council rates texting as the most dangerous cell phone activity for drivers, “because you physically take your eyes off the road.”
Oklahoma lags behind most other states in legislative sanctions against distracted driving
Current Oklahoma law specifies that drivers cannot be charged for cell phone use while driving unless they are involved in a car accident. Concerned legislators and road safety activists say that this provision does not go far enough – they want a law that specifically bans texting while driving. Most American states have now passed such a law: Oklahoma is one of only nine states that have not yet banned text-messaging while driving.
An article in the Tulsa World notes that legislation banning texting while operating a motor vehicle has been introduced in each of five consecutive years – up to and including 2013 – in the Oklahoma legislature. Each time the bill has been voted down. Road safety activists and those legislators who support such legislation vow to continue fighting for a law.
Anyone injured as a result of a car accident that may have been caused by distracted driving should contact a personal injury lawyer with experience in this area. An attorney with relevant expertise will provide timely advice and – if the matter goes to trial – vigorous representation in a court of law.