NORMAN — Thirty-nine states, not including Oklahoma, have recognized the dangers of texting or emailing while driving. Nine people will die today and another 1,000 will be injured from a driver distracted by messaging.
Oklahoma lawmakers missed another chance to make our roadways safer this week. An amendment on a bill dealing with reckless driving would have banned texting and emailing while driving, but it was effectively turned down 49-37 in the state House. Most believe the law would be hard to enforce and think it infringes on their rights.
It’s the third time lawmakers have voted against such a ban. Legislative leaders say it’s already covered under a broad category of the failure to devote full time and attention to driving law. But state troopers say drivers are only cited when an accident occurs.
The House’s action comes as a new study from a Texas transportation institute says it’s no safer to send texts hands free than typing them in. Wireless providers created voice to texts and sold them as safer than traditional cell phones. Some states require hands-free operations.
Drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident than those who do not text while driving. In 2011, 3,331 people were killed and 387,000 injured in distracted-driving crashes, according to the Transportation Department.
Text messaging has increased from 31 million sent per day in 2002 to 6.1 billion per day in 2012.