Oklahoma Texting While Driving Ban Tabled

Thirty-nine states expressly prohibit texting while driving. Oklahoma is not one of them. For at least another year, the state will remain among the minority of states without a law that specifically bans texting while driving, as the House of Representatives Calendar Committee voted earlier this month to table HB 1503, preventing it from being heard by the full House and moving on to the Senate. Proponents of the bill said the public supports a measure to penalize texting while driving, one of the deadliest forms of distracted driving. Opponents say the bill is unnecessary, as texting while driving is implicitly covered by an existing law that prohibits distracted driving. If it had passed, HB1503 would have allowed up to a $500 fine for texting while driving. The current distracted driving law, which took effect November 1, 2010, penalizes distracted driving, which may include texting while driving, with a $100 fine: 47 O.S. § 11-901bThe operator of every vehicle, while driving, shall devote their full time and attention to such driving. No law enforcement officer shall issue a citation under this section unless the law enforcement officer observes that the operator of the vehicle is involved in an accident or observes the operator of the vehicle driving in such a manner that poses an articulable danger to other persons on the roadway that is not otherwise specified in statute. Supporters of a statewide texting while driving ban say that the existing law is a secondary law--that an officer can issue a citation only after an accident or if the driver is driving erratically. They say that a texting ban would prevent the dangerous action from the beginning. Texting while driving is quickly becoming one of the greatest hazards on the road and a primary source of distracted driving. Distracted driving is any action which takes a driver's attention off of the task of driving. There are three types of distraction:

  • Mental distraction, in which a driver's mind is on something other than driving
  • Manual distraction, in which the driver takes his or her hands off the wheel
  • Visual distraction, in which the driver takes his or her eyes off the road
Texting is considered to be particularly dangerous because it involves all three types of distraction. A Car and Driver test showed that reaction time of a driver texting was even slower than that of a driver impaired by alcohol. Their test subject traveled an extra 30 feet before reacting while reading a text, compared to 15 feet when he was impaired by alcohol. Texting while driving is one of many dangerous distractions in which drivers participate. Eating, applying makeup, reading a GPS, arguing with other passengers, talking on the phone, and selecting music are all common types of roadway distractions. If you or a loved one is injured in an accident caused by a texting or otherwise distracted driver, you have the right to pursue financial compensation for your injuries, damages, and associated losses. Find an automobile accident lawyer in Oklahoma when you visit us online.