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Legislation to crack down on texting while driving advances

Legislation to crack down on texting while driving advances

February 24, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact: State Rep. Sue Tibbs
Capitol: (405) 557-7379

Legislation to Crack Down on Texting While Driving Advances

OKLAHOMA CITY – All Oklahoma drivers need to stop texting while driving and young drivers need to stop using the cell phone altogether when on the road says state Rep. Sue Tibbs, who has filed legislation to increase the punishment for cell phone texting while behind the wheel.

House Bill 3250, by Tibbs and state Rep. Danny Morgan, would penalize any person who is operating a motor vehicle on a street or highway 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 with a fine of up to $1,000.

“This is an important measure that hopefully will encourage drivers to pull off the road to a safe area if they must text someone,” said Tibbs, R-Tulsa. “This could save people from serious injuries or death. There’s no reason for innocent lives to be lost because a text couldn’t wait.”

House Bill 3250 also prohibits any driver operating under a learner’s permit or an intermediate driver’s license (class D) from using a cell phone to talk or text when the car is in motion. In addition, learner’s permit holders would only be able to drive between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. Violation of either provision would result in the suspension of the driver’s license, payment of court costs and ticket fees.

Tibbs noted that the Tulsa-based Crime Commission has partnered with students from Booker T. Washington High School to create a program that keeps Oklahoma’s teenage drivers safe on the road. State Farm Insurance is funding the “Generation tXt” program through their Youth Advisory Board grant in the amount of $35,453.

Generation tXt focuses on educating 8th and 9th grade students on the dangers of texting and driving through educational forums, videos, driving simulators and educational curriculum.

“I am so proud of these students for taking a stand and trying to educate their classmates so they can protect them from unnecessary car wrecks,” said Tibbs.

According to a Virginia Tech Transportation Institution study, for every six seconds of drive time, a driver sending or receiving a text message spends 4.6 of those seconds with their eyes off the road.

Each year, 21 percent of fatal car crashes involving teenagers between the ages of 16 and19 were the result of cell phone usage. That number is expected to increase as much as 4 percent every year, according to the study.

“Hopefully, if House Bill 3250 becomes law, no one will have to know how it would feel to kill someone because you had to text something to a friend that could have waited 10 minutes,” said Tibbs.

House Bill 3250 passed out of the House Public Safety Committee today. It will next receive a vote on the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

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