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Proposed bill would ban cellphone use while driving

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LAWTON, Okla._A proposed bill in the Oklahoma Senate would make it illegal to read, compose or send a text message while driving.

The bill recently passed the State Senate Public Safety Committee and the bill should soon go to the Senate floor for a vote. This isn't the first attempt to ban texting while driving in Oklahoma but this time the author of this bill, Senator Ron Sharp says the bill has support from 70% of Oklahomans. The problem they are facing with the bill is how they would enforce it.

AAA has requested texting while driving to be a primary offense but Sharp doesn't think it would pass in the Senate, "It's probably going to be a secondary offense, so there is going to have to be some other reason why the officer pulled them over other than texting while driving. So I guess that's the only way it's going to get through right now."

Sharp thinks this won't be a long term law since handheld devices won't be necessary in the future, "Drunk driving wasn't an offense until we came up with the automobile and therefore this has created a major problem and this is a problem that has to be addressed now."

Insurance agent, Jennifer Robinette said if you are texting while driving, you are 23 times more likely to get into a wreck, "If you don't think it's a law, then you don't think it's that serious and we're looking to changing people's way of thinking that this is serious, it is a law, there are consequences for it."

In an impromptu study at two Lawton intersections, the amount of people driving while using their phone was noticeable. In a 25 minute period at the intersection of Sheridan Road and Gore Boulevard, three or four people were caught texting and driving. In a similar time period at the intersection of Cache Road and Sheridan Road, the same amount of people were seen texting but many more were caught talking on their phone.

Sharp hopes getting people to quit texting and driving will be a behavioral change and that people will realize just how dangerous it is, "You're taking your life, the child in your back seat life, you're taking the individual coming the opposite way if you veer off center. This is dangerous for you to be distracted by texting."

Forty-two states already have laws banning texting while driving. If the bill were to pass, the fine for a first offense would be $30. There are several other bills pending in both the house and senate to ban texting and driving, including one that would make it illegal to use a cell phone in a school zone.

To read Senate Bill 442, click here.

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