Oklahoma to Outlaw Texting While Driving

By: Bridget Clerkin October 22, 2015
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Don't Text & Drive!
Texting while driving will be illegal in Oklahoma.

Starting next month, Oklahoma residents will say TTYL to texting while driving.

Using a hand-held electronic device to manually compose, send, or read an electronicmessage while your vehicle is in motion will officially become a primary offense in the Sooner State on November 1.

That means you can be pulled over just for texting – or reading a text – while driving, even if you are obeying all other traffic rules.

As a primary offense, the ticket for texting or reading a text while driving will carry a $100 fine.

Exceptions to the rule exist only for emergency situations, where the device is being used to contact law enforcement or medical personnel.

Signed into law this spring, the legislation is an attempt to combat the increasingly problematic issue of distracted driving in Oklahoma, which caused 14 fatal crashes and 602 crashes resulting in injury in the state in 2013 alone.

Nationwide, that same year saw 3,145 deaths and 424,000 injuries from distracted driving accidents. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates that texting while driving will make a driver 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident.

The Oklahoma measure was also inspired in part by the loss of an OK Highway Patrol trooper, Nicholas Dees, who was struck and killed this January by a driver who was allegedly using social media at the time of the accident. Dees’ partner, Keith Burch, who was standing on the side of the highway with Dees in order to investigate a different accident at the time, was seriously injured by the crash.

Fittingly, the bill was named the “Trooper Nicholas Dees and Keith Burch Act of 2015.” It makes Oklahoma the 46th state to put a “no texting while driving” measure into effect.

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