State Capitol
1:27 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Texting-While-Driving Ban Passes Oklahoma House Committee

Credit IntelFreePress / Flickr Creative Commons

An Oklahoma House committee has passed a bill that would prohibit texting, emailing and instant messaging while driving a vehicle.

The House Public Safety Committee voted 8-4 Wednesday and sent the bill to the full House for a vote.

The bill removes the prohibition on only operators of commercial motor vehicle and public transit driver to operate a motor vehicle while using a cellular telephone or electronic communication device to write, send, or read a text-based communication while the motor vehicle is in motion, making it illegal for any person to do so. 

It is among at least eight bills pending in the House and Senate that would restrict texting while driving, including two measures approved by a Senate panel last week.

The bill's author, Rep. Terry O'Donnell of Tulsa, says the measure would help reduce the number of accidents caused by inattentive driving. O'Donnell says a driver is more likely to have an accident while textingthan while being under the influence of alcohol.

When asked if the provisions of the bill would overstep the boundaries of the Legislature, O’Donnell said state troopers would need an additional reason for pulling someone over. Pulling an individual over for suspicion of texting while driving would not be permitted under his bill, he said.

Opponents argued that the measure is unnecessary because distracted driving is already illegal.

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