Texting And Driving Soon To Be Illegal In Oklahoma
OKLAHOMA CITY - After years of debate, texting and driving will become illegal in Oklahoma.
Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill making texting and driving a primary offense; meaning police officers can pull you over if they catch you.
On Jan. 31 of this year, Trooper Nicholas Dees was killed and fellow trooper Keith Burch badly injured when the driver of a vehicle, believed to be updating social media, struck them while they were investigating an accident.
“Through our tragedy we are hoping to save as many lives as we can,” said Brandi Dees, Nicholas' widow.
The bill banning texting and driving was named after both troopers. Their wives and daughters were all there as Fallin signed the bill into law.
“My husband is making great strides in his recovery and with progressive actions taken today it makes his healing process even better,” said Kayla Burch, Trooper Keith Burch's wife.
“It was so unnecessary, it was so unnecessary for this to occur,” said Commissioner Mike Thompson, the Oklahoma Secretary of Public Safety.
Several groups have been pushing for a texting and driving ban for years without success, and this year a mere four votes in the Senate made the ban a primary offense. Still, Fallin pointed out in 2013 14 fatalities were blamed on drivers distracted by mobile devices.
“Today we're passing one of the most significant pieces of legislation for highway safety and to save lives in our state,” said Fallin.
Highway patrol troopers worked a lot of those fatalities and many were at the signing to support the ban, that's necessity this year hit too close to home.
“That's a great loss for us and we're very very emotional about it and that's one we will enforce,” said Lt. John Vincent with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
“There's no reason for anyone to lose their life because you're updating your status on Facebook, it should be a crime and now it will be,” said Secretary of Public Safety, Mike Thompson.
Oklahoma will be the 46th state to enact a texting ban when the law takes effect on Nov. 1. The ban does allow for exceptions in certain emergency situations.