Texting while driving is one step closer to being illegal

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OKLAHOMA CITY — A bill aimed at curbing the dangerous trend of texting while driving easily passed a vote on the House floor Tuesday.

House bill 1965, by State Rep. Terry O’Donnell, aims to prevent texting while driving. If passed, the bill will call for a $250 fine for the first offense; subsequent offenses would cost $500.

The bill passed by a 96-2 margin on the floor of the state House of Representatives.

“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 seat belt laws, little changed overnight. But eventually, the attitudes of drivers changed and lives were saved,” Rep. O’Donnell said.

Rep. Mike Christian, a retired Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper, supported the legislation and said it was an important bill to support.

“The tragic accident that killed OHP Trooper Nicholas Dees and seriously injured Trooper Keith Burch in January was completely preventable,” said Christian, R- Oklahoma City. “It was a direct result of a driver so absorbed in his electronic media that he ran into both troopers at high speed while they were working the scene of another accident. Passing this is a fitting tribute to both troopers that this act bears in their names.”

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 44 states currently have a texting ban on drivers.

“In an interim study last year, we learned that texting and 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 bill now heads to the state Senate.

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