Bill makes texting and driving a crime for young drivers

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 26-May-2010

Lawmakers voted yesterday (Tuesday, May 25) to make it illegal for Oklahoma teens to text while driving.

Senate Bill 1908 would prohibit any driver operating under a learner’s permit or an intermediate driver’s license (class D) from using a hand held electronic device to talk or text when the car is in motion.

The measure by Reps. Sue Tibbs, a Tulsa Republican, and Danny Morgan, a Prague Democrat, was sponsored in the Senate by Anthony Sykes, a Moore Republican.

Under the new bill, learner’s permit holders would only be able to drive between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 p.m.

“Young drivers need to focus on driving and learning how to be a good driver instead of talking to friends and potentially endangering their lives or the lives of others,” said Tibbs. “Considering the fact that we’re talking about 3,000 pounds of metal traveling at 40 to 75 miles per hour on autopilot, it’s clearly dangerous to have teens texting while driving. It’s a dangerous situation that could lead to tragedy.”

“Our children know they shouldn’t text and drive, but do it anyway because there’s currently no big penalty when they get caught,” said Morgan, who serves as the leader of House Democrats. “These are new drivers. They need to have both eyes focused on the road ahead, not on a cell phone screen.”

Violation of Senate Bill 1908 would result in the suspension of the driver’s license, payment of court costs and ticket fees.

Rep. Morgan said he was somewhat disappointed by the elimination from the bill of provisions banning all drivers from texting while driving, but pleased that at least younger drivers will be protected.

“The evidence on texting while driving is so compelling that virtually everyone who is involved in highway safety or law enforcement has now endorsed a complete ban on texting while driving, and that includes everyone from Triple-A to the Department of Public Safety,” said Morgan. “This bill is a good start, and hopefully we will be able to complete the job in the next session.”

Senate Bill 1908 passed the full House on a 90-5 vote and is now awaiting the governor’s consideration.