Oklahoma Officials Support Texting Ban

A rally at the capitol took place recently in an effort to urge lawmakers to approve a texting ban to make Oklahoma’s roadways a safer place to be. Many community members were in attendance including legislators, health and safety officials, teenagers, insurance industry officials, and Gina Harris, whose 19-year-old daughter, Brittanie Montgomery was killed in a crash in Oklahoma City in 2006.

“She chose to pick up her phone,” Harris said. “Within a two-second time span she lost control of her vehicle and hopped all the way across four lanes of traffic and was hit in her driver’s door. She did not survive the impact.”

The bill that was passed by the House Transportation Committee calls for a fine of up to $500 for violators and would also make it illegal for drivers to “compose, send, or read a text-based communication”. If approved by the House Calendar Committee, the bill could be taken into consideration by the House.

According to chief of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Kerry Pettingill, Oklahoma drivers can be given violations for inattentive driving, but cannot be stopped or ticketed if seen on a cell phone, even if an officer witnesses them texting while driving. A measure was approved by the Oklahoma Legislature three years ago that would allow teens with a learner’s permit or intermediate driver’s license, to have their license suspended or revoked if found to be using a cell phone while driving.

The National Safety Council has gathered statistics that show that at least 24 percent of crashes involve drivers talking and texting on cell phones, according to Chuck Mai, a spokesman for AAA Oklahoma.

“AAA is behind this measure for one reason and one reason only: Our members are scared to death of texting drivers,” Mai said.

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