Bills call for no texts while driving

March 7, 2014 Editorials Print Print
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It’s typically not too hard to spot someone who is texting and driving. Many times, they’re having trouble staying in their lane, throwing their brakes on at the last second, don’t notice when the light turns green, don’t use their turn signal — the list is endless.

These are not characteristics of all people under the influence of technology but I think you could agree that most fit the description.

If you are one of these people, shame on you. Everyone on the road should not have to fear for their lives because you feel the need to send a text.

During the week of Feb. 21, two texting and driving bills passed in the Oklahoma Senate Public Safety Committee and are now on their way to being considered by the Senate as a whole.

The first bill, Senate Bill 442, is geared toward making composing, sending or reading a text while driving illegal. There will be fines for each time a person is caught using his or her phone to send or read texts while driving.

The first offense will be up to $30 and up to $50 fine for each offense after that.

There would be some exceptions to the bill such as: law enforcement officers, emergency personnel, emergency calls being made to law enforcement, hospitals, fire departments, doctors, health clinics and licensed individuals who are amateur radio callers.

The second bill, Senate Bill 1601, prohibits the use of a wireless device in a school zone when the speed limit reduction is in effect.

The exception to the bill would be if drivers were using a hands-free device or if the car is stopped. An exception also applies to emergency vehicle drivers, or those contacting emergency authorities.

Senate Bill 1601 would have a fine of up to $250 and a fine of up to $500 if an accident was caused from cell phone use.

Oklahoma is not one of the first states to attempt to pass bills related to all drivers texting and driving. In fact, our state is actually one of the last.

According to www.textinganddrivingsafety.com, 39 states and the District of Columbia have laws against texting while driving.

The staggering statistics about texting and driving make me wonder why all states don’t have laws prohibiting the behavior.

Texting while behind the wheel makes having an accident 23 times more likely. In 2011, around 1.3 billion crashes — which is around 23 percent — of automobile accidents involved cell phones.

I completely agree with these new bills and fully anticipate they will pass in the Senate. However, I think they will be extremely hard to enforce.

Bill 442 does not address cell phone use outside of texting.

I think cell phone use while driving is a threat, whether it is texting or calling someone. I don’t think there is a way just to limit a particular use of a technological device that has so many capabilities.

This would be a huge inconvenience to people who do not have hands-free devices and I happen to be one of those people. I believe the safety of Oklahomans should be put above our needs to constantly be in communication with one another.

Lawmakers should reconsider their bill to include all cell phone use, not just texting.

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