NORMAN — Debra Lewis has no doubt if her son Casey were alive, he would support a law named in his honor.
“He would like this bill because it holds people accountable for their actions,” Lewis said.
Casey Lewis, 27, died in a Moore motorcycle wreck in 2007.
Lewis said her son was riding a motorcycle when he collided with a car making a left turn. The driver wasn’t cited because he stopped in the intersection and signaled before making the turn, she said.
Gov. Brad Henry signed a law two weeks ago that will change the rules regarding left turns in oncoming traffic. The Casey Lewis Act eliminates language which permitted a driver to turn left after signaling and pausing in an intersection, and which required oncoming drivers to yield to the turning driver. The change means drivers must wait until all oncoming traffic has passed before attempting a left turn, according to the statute.
The law takes effect Nov. 1.
Lewis said Rep. Wallace Collins, D-Norman, wrote the language for the law. Collins approached the Lewis family with the idea.
“This would hold people accountable for their actions,” Lewis said.
Lewis said she and her husband Steve appreciated Collins’ efforts.
“We were very humbled that Casey’s life would be used as an example to try and protect someone down the line,” she said.
She said Casey grew up in Noble. At the time of his death, he lived in Blanchard with his wife, Nikki, and two children, Gabriel and Graci. Another son, Deacon, was born six weeks after Casey Lewis died.
In a press release, Collins said the old law dated to the early days of traffic laws before cars had turn signals, when traffic moved more slowly.
“These days, most drivers wait for all oncoming traffic to pass before attempting to make a left turn, and this will simply require that all drivers employ that common sense practice,” Collins said.
Rep. Paul Roan, D-Tishomingo, authored House Bill 2322, according the State House of Representatives. The language for the Casey Lewis Act was added as an amendment to the bill.
“This is an issue of public safety, and as a retired state trooper, that’s a subject I have pretty strong feelings on,” Roan said. “When a driver is making a left turn, they should have the responsibility for making sure that they can turn safely. This change will require them to do so and puts the liability on them if their turn results in an accident.”
Norman Police Department Capt. Tom Easley said the City of Norman has an ordinance that specifies the rules for making a left turn in the face of oncoming traffic.
“We’ve operated under that ordinance,” he said.
According to the city’s ordinance: “The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left or into an alley, private road or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.”
“The majority of traffic violations involving accidents are drivers who contribute to the collisions and are written under municipal ordinances,” Easley said.
Meghan McCormick 366-3539 firstname.lastname@example.org