The Norman Transcript


February 27, 2014

Oklahoma House panel OKs ban on driving, texting

OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma House committee approved legislation Wednesday that would prohibit texting, emailing and instant messaging while driving a vehicle over the objections of opponents who said the measure would be difficult to enforce.

The House Public Safety Committee voted 8-4 for the measure and sent it to the full House for a vote. It is among at least eight bills pending in the House and Senate that would restrict texting while driving, including two measures approved by a Senate panel last week.

The House bill would prohibit drivers from “manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols or other characters” into a cellphone or other electronic device as well as sending or reading texts, emails or instant messages. The measure would not apply to texts sent from stationary vehicles or emergency communications with law enforcement authorities.

The bill’s author, Rep. Terry O’Donnell R-Tulsa, said the measure would help reduce the number of accidents caused by inattentive driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2012 alone, 3,328 people were killed nationally in distracted driving crashes.

O’Donnell said a driver is 23 times more likely to have an accident while texting.

“We need legislation to address that,” O’Donnell said. He said 41 other states have passed similar laws.

But opponents argued that the measure is unnecessary because inattentive driving is already illegal in the state. Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, said the bill goes too far and resembles the rules of “a Nazi state.”

“Are you aware that we might be overstepping it?” Ritze asked O’Donnell.

“We’re teaching people about how to think about their conduct,” O’Donnell said. “That is something you are consciously choosing to do.”

Ritze and other committee members said law enforcement authorities may find it difficult to enforce a ban on testing while driving.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • One killed when shipping container falls onto vehicle

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma City police say one person was killed when a shipping container was knocked from an Oklahoma National Guard vehicle and landed on a pickup truck....

    August 1, 2014

  • Tampering accusations surface in OKC bombing case

    SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawyer suing the FBI over his public records request for surveillance videos from the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing said Tuesday that one of his witnesses backed out after being visited by government officials last ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Christie set to visit state for fundraiser

    OKLAHOMA CITY — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is planning a return trip to Oklahoma after a December ice storm forced him to cancel a scheduled appearance with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin....

    July 30, 2014

  • Cool snap brings heat relief to Oklahoma, Arkansas

    OKLAHOMA CITY — The dog days of summer are coming in with a whimper. Weather forecasters say a cold front headed for Oklahoma and Arkansas will bring unseasonably cool temperatures and a chance of rain through next week....

    July 29, 2014

  • FBI defends search for Oklahoma City bombing video

    SALT LAKE CITY — The FBI thoroughly searched its archives and found no evidence that more videos of the Oklahoma City bombing exist, agency employees told a judge Monday in a trial that has rekindled questions about whether any others were ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Health officials prepare for flu

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Following a flu season in which a record number of Oklahomans died as a result of the virus, state and county health officials say educating the public and general common sense are vital to reducing both the death rate and ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Scam targets migrants

    HOUSTON — Scammers have been preying on the relatives of unaccompanied young migrants being held at two U.S. military bases by conning them into paying nonexistent fees to be reunited with their loved ones, officials said....

    July 27, 2014

  • Trial delayed for man in murder case

    DUNCAN — The first-degree murder trial of a Velma man charged with killing a 16-year-old girl has been delayed until January....

    July 27, 2014

  • Man seeks video of 1995 Oklahoma City bombing

    OKLAHOMA CITY — One man’s quest to explain his brother’s mysterious jail cell death 19 years ago has rekindled long-dormant questions about whether others were involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. What some consider a far-flung ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Man found dead outside Tulsa home

    TULSA — Police in Tulsa are investigating the death of a man whose body was found outside a house on the city’s north side....

    July 27, 2014