On May 6th, 2010, Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry signed into law House Bill 2957, which prohibits public transit drivers from using a cell phone to "write, send, or read" a text message while operating a motor vehicle on their transportation routes. Those who violate the new law will be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a $500 fine.
Public transit drivers, as defined by the bill, includes any driver of a motor vehicle owned and operated by the State of Oklahoma or by an Oklahoma school district, and any conductor or driver of trains or railway cars.
Similarly, the Oklahoma Legislature also passed House Bill 2276, which states that "the operator of every vehicle, while driving, shall devote their full time and attention to such driving". However, police officers may not issue a citation for violations of such unless the driver is involved in an auto accident or the driver is operating his or her motor vehicle in a way that poses an articulable danger to others on the roadway.
A third law regarding texting while driving, Senate Bill 1908, was passed and signed by Governor Henry on June 6th, 2010. This legislation prohibits drivers with learner's permits or intermediate drivers licenses to use a mobile phone in any way while driving, which includes both talking and texting. If violated, the license may be suspended or canceled.
All three of these new laws will go into effect on November 1, 2010.
Although, we still support a more comprehensive ban on texting while driving in Oklahoma, this legislation is an important first step in protecting and ensuring the safety of drivers across the State of Oklahoma. We applaud the efforts of the Oklahoma legislature in recognizing a growing concern from the citizens of this state and acting to limit the threat to the safety of all drivers that texting while driving presents.
This video from the NBC Today Show catches a negligent public transit driver texting on his cell phone while traveling at a high rate of speed on a Texas highway. This horrifying wreck shows just how dangerous texting while driving can be. Thankfully, similar conduct is now prohibited by law in the State of Oklahoma.