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Lawmakers Halt Bill to Ban Texting While Driving

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla_A bill that would ban texting while driving in the state of Oklahoma has hit a road block.

The legislative committee that determines if it will be heard by the full House of Representatives voted to table the bill for later discussion.

House speaker TW Shannon has outwardly expressed his dislike for the bill that would ban the composition, sending or reading of a text while driving because he believes it would take away individual rights of Oklahomans.

Another big hold up for some lawmakers is they have a hard time understanding how police will be able to enforce the law, and even think it duplicates the already existing "inattention to driving" law.

The author of the bill, Curtis McDaniel, argues that texting while driving has reached epidemic levels and just like drinking and driving it needs to be taken seriously and addressed head on.

"It's inherently dangerous any time you take your attention off what you're supposed to be doing in a motor vehicle."

Is what Duncan Police Officer Bryan Eades said when asked if there's ever a good reason to text while driving.

Oklahoma is 1 of only 11 states where texting and driving is not illegal, and he said all it would take to enforce this law would be to simply catch drivers in the act.

"Basically seeing visually someone not paying attention to the roadway and texting on their phone instead of having full control of the vehicle, " said Eades.

He agreed it could be difficult to determine whether someone is texting or in fact using their phone legally, but he said if the driver's attention is taken away for any reason related to the phone, it's all covered under the citation of inattention to driving.

"It goes along the same lines. If you're not paying attention to what you're supposed to be doing and safely operating the motor vehicle then you're not being attentive to your driving, and you're cited for inattentive driving, " said Eades.

His point coincides with why some lawmakers say the bill isn't needed because it duplicates already existing laws.

However, he sees enough accidents to know it's a major problem and a law banning it wouldn't hurt.

"I do think that if there was a law out there and there were a number of people that obeyed that law that it would reduce accidents, " Eades said.

Representative Don Armes sits on the committee that heard the bill on Thursday. His own daughter flipped her car while looking down at her phone, but he still wants to be cautious not to let the government get too involved with the freedoms of Oklahoma drivers. He said at this point he is very torn on the issue.

Because the bill was tabled and not killed, the committee will have another opportunity to pass it through. Their deadline is March 14. 

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