Oklahoma teenagers spent the day at the state Capitol, pushing for lawmakers to pass a texting ban for drivers.
Like years past, there are several bills legislators are considering that all deal with texting and driving. A generation of texters wants a law passed this year. The group called “Generation tXt” is pushing for five bills that would affect every Oklahoma driver.
The teens watched as one of those bills passed out of committee Wednesday.
“It's really sad. It shouldn't be like this,” said 18-year-old Skylar Yoder with Generation tXt. “We are one of six states that still does not have legislation passed against texting while driving and that needs to change.”
Generation tXt is made up of Tulsa teens. They visited with lawmakers, displayed their message on banners around the capitol and recruited others to sign a pledge to not text and drive.
“We see the statistics and we are knowledgeable about what the consequences are of texting and driving and it's not worth it,” said Yoder. “Car crashes are the number one killer of American teens and I don't want to be part of that statistic.”
The group watched as Rep. Terry O'Donnell (R-Catoosa) explained his new bill.
"House Bill 1965 is designed to eliminate the specific distraction of texting while driving," explained Rep. O'Donnell at a committee hearing.
His bill is one of several bills this session that would ban a driver from using cell phones with a few exceptions like navigational purposes and listening to music stored on your phone.
O'Donnell said driving while texting increases the risk of a crash by 23 times whereas drunk driving increases the risk by 6 times.
“It's not OK to text and drive. We have tried to get this out. We have shown that multi-tasking isn't possible and that it's more dangerous than drunk driving,” said 18-year-old Anders Broussard with Generation tXt. “It's a serious issue that isn't affecting just the person texting, it's affecting everyone on the roads.”
Oklahoma currently has a broad distracted driving law, but O'Donnell, the Generation tXt teens and other supports say the law is not specific enough to texting while driving.
“It's common sense, it's time, they need to pass it,” said Yoder.
HB 1965 now heads to the full house.