Proposed law would expand Oklahoma's texting and driving ban

Oklahoma lawmakers are considering a ban against using handheld electronic devices while driving.

A bill has been proposed in the state legislature that would significantly expand the scope of Oklahoma's distracted driving law. According to ABC 8 News, the bill would make it illegal to talk on or use a handheld electronic device while behind the wheel. Currently, state law only bans texting and driving, not talking on or conducting other activities on a cellphone. Proponents of the proposed law point out that distracted driving remains a widespread problem and that the current distracted driving law is overly difficult for police officers to enforce.

Expanded distracted driving law

As NewsChannel 4 reports, the proposed law would make it illegal to talk on a cellphone that is held up to one's ear. It would also make it illegal to write, read, or check emails or to check or update social media profiles while driving. Essentially, Senate Bill 44 makes almost any use of a handheld electronic device illegal while behind the wheel. The fine for breaking the law would be $100.

There would be exceptions to the new law. Drivers would still be allowed to make emergency calls using a cellphone, for example. Additionally, hands-free technology, such as Bluetooth, would also be permitted, as would navigation devices that are built into vehicles.

Cracking down on distracted driving

Proponents of the proposed law point to both the success and weakness of Oklahoma's existing texting and driving ban as proof that a broader distracted driving law is needed. AAA Oklahoma, for example, points out that since the texting and driving law was passed overall accidents have declined 12.5 percent while fatal crashes have declined 30 percent. That tougher laws can discourage distracted driving was backed up by a recent survey that found that 50 percent of young drivers say that the threat of getting pulled over and receiving a ticket is a definite deterrent to texting and driving.

However, the current texting and driving law requires drivers to admit that they were actually texting before police can issue them a citation. Senate Bill 44 would merely require that police see drivers texting in order to give them a ticket.

Personal injury law

While Oklahoma has made significant improvements in fighting back against distracted driving, more can always be done. The fact remains that texting and talking on a cellphone are among the greatest threats to road safety throughout Oklahoma and the country. Anybody who has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, especially if that accident was caused by a negligent or reckless driver, should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. An experienced personal injury attorney can help accident victims with the various legal issues that often arise following a crash, including with helping them possibly pursue financial compensation.