OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill aimed at curbing a dangerous trend easily passed a vote on the House floor Tuesday.
The Oklahoma House of Representatives approved House Bill 1965, which would stop drivers from texting, emailing or using instant messaging while driving.
However, experts say it makes texting a secondary offense, meaning officers would not have the authority to pull you over just for texting.
First time offenders would receive a $250 fine. Subsequent offenses would register a $500 fine.
The measure, authored by state Rep. Terry O’Donnell, passed by a 96-2 margin.
“I am grateful and honored of the overwhelming support HB 1965 received on the House floor today,” said O’Donnell, R-Catoosa. “The ban on texting while driving is a long-term investment into the safety of those using our roads and highways. When our state passed drinking and driving laws and mandatory seatbelt laws, little changed overnight. But eventually the attitudes of drivers changes and lives were saved.”
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 44 states currently have a texting ban on drivers.
“This has been an issue we’ve studied in the legislature for some time,” O’Donnell said. “In an interim study last year, we learned that texting while driving makes the driver 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, drinking and driving makes a driver six times more likely to be in an accident. When you compare those two stats, you have an idea of the danger texting while driving presents on our roads and highways.”
The measure now heads to the state Senate.