Teens, lawmakers team up to target hand-held devices behind the wheel

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Teenagers and lawmakers joined forces at the state capitol Wednesday in the fight against distracted driving.

“It’s a big problem, said 18-year-old Hannah Hill of Tulsa. “You’re walking through the parking lot at school and almost get run over because a fellow classmate is texting and not looking at where they’re driving in the parking lot.”

Hill is part of a group of teens known as “Generation tXt.”

They want to see a device-free Oklahoma behind the wheel.

The group and lawmakers want to see Senate Bill 44 and the Senate Bill 132 take off in full gear. Both bills target distracted driving.

Even tough texting and driving is already illegal in Oklahoma, those against distracted driving say more needs to be done.

“The Senate Bill of which I am carrying is Senate Bill 44 and it prohibits the use of a hand-held electronic communication device while in the physical operation of a moving vehicle,” said Senator Ron Sharp, who co-authored the bill.

Hill says it’s more than just getting some laws on the books, it’s about preventing her worst nightmare.

“My biggest fear is being in a car or having a loved one in the car and they get hit by someone who is distracted driving and they get killed or I get killed.”

Julianne Thomison, a 19-year-old college freshman, says she became an advocate for hands-free driving after another distracted driver crashed into her.

“Suddenly, someone hit us from the back end going nearly 50 miles per hour,” she said. “Our car completely turned around twice and we almost ran into a large tree.”

Even though the proposed legislation is still in the works, Thomison says the message should already be a reality.

“It is a choice and it is 100 percent preventable.”

Proponents hope the bills will be heard by the Senate Public Safety Committee and from there, be signed into law in the fall.

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