Another Setback In Fight To Ban Texting While Driving

Monday, April 14th 2014, 6:56 pm
By: News 9

For the fifth year in a row, legislation to ban texting while driving gets thrown out. Bills in both the house and senate were killed, leaving many fighting for the law frustrated.

"That two seconds is a lot of ground covered, and then your reaction time to get off the gas and on the break, it's too late," Silver Star Imports owner Michael Rush said.

Too busy texting while driving is what shattered the windows and busted the tires of one silver Mercedes, now parked next to a big sign that reads "Texting?" in front of Rush's business in Edmond on 15th and Broadway.

"Seems like instead of sitting back here hidden out of sight, doing what I'm doing with it now, it seems to be getting some really good mileage out of it," Rush said.

He said he wanted to make an example of the car after his relative crashed it while texting, and many are responding well to his message to not text and drive.

"People stop and ask about it, so when I got people pulling off the street thanking me for doing this, I'm like, I did something right," said Rush, who plans to keep the wrecked car on display for another couple weeks.

Representative Terry O'Donnell said he wished he had similar success after his bill, HB 2540 along with SB 442, which would ban texting while driving failed to pass. He said opponents thought the bill was redundant.

"They make arguments such as there are other laws about distracted driving and you can't identify every distraction to driving, so why try to identify and specify this one particular distraction," O'Donnell said.

But with 43 other states banning texting while driving, Oklahoma lawmakers said they'll keep trying.

"There's always next year, and I think there will be a continuing effort by me and others to get something passed," O'Donnell added.

Senator Gary Stanislawski said they don't want law enforcement trying to pull over everybody, just people clearly distracted and weaving in and out of lanes off road. He also said with advanced phones being able to send text messages with your voice and not your hands, technology could outpace the need for a law.

Senator Ron Sharp said last year about 2,000 Oklahomans were in crashes caused by distracted drivers, more than 700 were injured and 10 were killed.

"Next year, I'm going to reintroduce the distracted driver bill but broaden it so that the primary offense not only applies to cell phone usage while driving but also putting on makeup, eating and any other distractions," Sharp said.

"Perhaps by broadening the bill, I can garner more support," said Sharp. "We've got to strengthen our laws to encourage drivers to keep their eyes and minds on the road."