Oklahoma Lawmaker Proposes Ban on Texting While Driving

A bill introduced to the Oklahoma Legislature would ban texting while driving in the Sooner State and attach relatively hefty fines for violations of the ban.

The legislation, introduced by Sen. Jerry Ellis at the end of 2011, would also make sending text messages while driving a moving violation, a fact that has the potential to affect Oklahoma car insurance rates for those convicted of doing so.

Under the introduced version of the bill, the fine for those caught text messaging behind the wheel would be up to $175 for a first violation and up to $500 for violations after that.

Those fines double if the motorist is involved in a crash at the time of the violation.

Police officers would only be able to enforce the law as a secondary action, meaning they could not stop a driver solely because they suspect he or she is sending or reading text messages while driving.

Oklahoma Remains Among the Minority of States Lacking Texting Bans

Oklahoma remains one of only 15 states that lack a ban on text messaging while driving for all motorists. Six other states have partial bans, while eight still have no ban at all.

Oklahoma currently bars school bus drivers, public transit drivers and motorists with learner’s permits and intermediate licenses from texting behind the wheel, but it is not an offense for other drivers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

But growing publicity about the dangers of distracted driving and a recent call from the National Transportation Safety Board for all states to outlaw the use of cell phones by drivers could provide the momentum needed to get Ellis’s bill signed into law.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, inattention was a contributing factor in more than 8 percent of the crashes in the state in 2010.

About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

No comments yet.

Comment on this article