Update: Bill that would ban texting while driving may be named in honor of troopers

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UPDATE: Rep. Mike Christian has filed an amendment to House Bill 1965 that would name the law in honor of two state troopers hit by a vehicle in January.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Nicholas Dees was killed and trooper Keith Burch was injured in the accident.

The bill would prohibit texting, emailing or using instant messaging while driving.


OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill aimed at curbing the dangerous trend of texting while driving easily passed out of a House committee today.

House Bill 1965, by state Rep. Terry O’Donnell, strengthens language aimed at preventing texting while driving, marking a first offense fine at $250. Subsequent offenses would register a $500 fine.

The bill passed with a unanimous 11-0 vote in the Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee.

“I’m very pleased at the unanimous vote HB 1965 received,” said O’Donnell, R-Catoosa. “Public Safety is the No. 1 priority of our state. In last fall’s interim study, we learned that all but six states have laws directly banning texting while driving; that texting while driving makes the driver 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident; and 11 people die each day in the United States as a result of texting while driving. It’s time for Oklahoma’s motor vehicle laws to come into the 21st Century and provide the protection from texting and driving that Oklahomans want and deserve.”

“This is a good bill that will help to keep our roads and highways safer.”

After the hearing, Generation tXt held a press conference on the bill’s passing. The group is a teen-led, grassroots, multi-faceted organization focused on educating young teens and families about how to practice safe driving by addressing the hazards of texting while driving.

“It was an honor to have a group such as Generation tXt here at the Capitol to support HB 1965,” O’Donnell said. “Their entire focus is centered on alerting parents and teens to the dangers of texting while driving. And, according to the Tulsa Crime Commission, 21 percent of fatal car crashes for drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 are the result of cell phone usage. So that’s an age group we certainly need to help realize just how dangerous it is to text while driving.”

The bill now heads to the House floor for further consideration.

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