Distracted driving is surpassing drunk driving as one of the greatest threats on Oklahoma roads. In order to help combat the problem, the state finally passed legislation that makes it illegal to text while driving, and Oklahoma’s governor signed the bill last week.
The law — which goes into effect Nov. 1 — makes it illegal to use a hand-held electronic device to compose, send or read electronic messages while driving, with exceptions for emergency situations and hands-free devices. A violation carries a $100 fine.
The measure was called the Trooper Nicholas Dees and Trooper Keith Burch Act, and it was named after two troopers who were hit in January by a driver who was allegedly distracted. Trooper Dees was killed in the crash and Trooper Burch is still going through rehab for his injuries.
According to reports, the accident occurred as the two troopers were investigating an accident in Seminole County on Interstate 40. The driver who struck them is accused of making a post to social media at the time he struck the troopers.
Oklahoma became the 46th state in the country to outlaw texting while driving. Only Montana and Arizona have no texting while driving ban. Texas and Missouri have a partial texting while driving ban for certain drivers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Drivers who ignore the texting ban in Oklahoma or other states not only risk getting a ticket, they also expose themselves to serious liability if they cause an accident that leads to injuries. Distracted drivers who are violating the law can be criminally charged and can also face personal injury liability.
Read more about motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving on our website.