Senate Bill Would Ban Texting While Driving - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Senate Bill Would Ban Texting While Driving

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ARDMORE, OK -- More than 11,000 crashes in 2012 were caused by distracted drivers according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.

A senate bill has been proposed --that if passed-- would combat those numbers.

"I was just sitting here in line getting on my phone and I didn't have my car in park and I started rolling and almost hit the guy in front of me," said Catherine Barnhill, while waiting in line to get her car washed.

It's stories like this that Oklahoma lawmakers say inspired Senate Bill 442.

"When I have to tap on my brakes I just hope and pray that the person behind me isn't texting because otherwise they're going to be in my front seat," said Senator Ron Sharp, the author of the bill.

Troopers say using phones and other electronic devices while driving is a problem across the state.

"Hopefully that would deter the crashes a little bit make people focus more on their driving rather than something that's within their vehicle that can wait," said Lt. Jay Clary.

Oklahoma already has laws against distracted driving. But this bill proposes just reading a text message while driving would be illegal.

Fines for composing, sending, or reading a text could be as high as $500.

The bill would also prohibit other electronic messaging such as email, while behind the wheel.

Senate Bill 442 was requested by AAA. Vice President of Public Affairs Chuck Mai says the company has been fighting for a ban on texting the past 5 years.

"AAA feels like it's a triple threat because your eyes are off the road, your hands are off the wheel and your mind is not on the traffic," said Vicki Quinby, branch manager at AAA in Ardmore.

Quinby also says a survey of AAA Oklahoma members found 96 percent were for legislation specifically against texting.

"Texting is more dangerous because you don't realize how long you keep your eyes of the road and then a split second you could have an accident," said Barnhill.

Mai says 42 other states have made texting behind the wheel illegal.

The bill was approved by the Public Safety committee Thursday. Sharp expects it to be voted on sometime in the next two weeks.