NORMAN — Drivers who are texting are 23 times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle crash than ones who are not texting. Thirty-nine states, not including Oklahoma, ban sending text messages while driving.
The danger is mostly from the time it takes a driver’s eyes off the road. Officials say five seconds at high speed can mean life or death for a driver, a pedestrian or cyclist. A new organization, Drive Aware Oklahoma, will push for legislation banning texting and driving.
It’s been tried in Oklahoma before. Lawmakers don’t want to infringe on personal rights. Many say laws already on the books that punish drivers for failing to devote full time and attention to driving should be used to punish texting drivers instead of new laws.
A less dangerous but semi-serious problem is drivers who are typing text messages while at stop signs and stop lights. Often, they are oblivious that it is their turn to go or that the light has turned green.
But until it’s against the law, texters will continue to push the envelope. The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office reports there were 547 injury crashes and 818 non-injury crashes in 2010 that can be attributed to a driver being distracted by an electronic device.