Gov. Henry bans state employees’ ‘texting’ while driving state vehicles

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

NOTE: This is adapted from a press release received Jan. 21 from the office of Gov. Brad Henry of Oklahoma.

Gov. Brad Henry on Jan. 21 signed an executive order barring state employees from “text messaging” while driving state vehicles. Gov. Henry said he wants the directive to serve as a model for all Oklahoma motorists.

“Technological advances like text messaging have revolutionized our lives in many ways, but they have also created serious distractions that can have disastrous results on our roadways,” he said.

“There really is no way someone can be an alert and responsible driver while he or she is also reading or typing out keys on a small keyboard. This is a matter of common sense.”

Under the order, Oklahoma state employees are prohibited from text messaging when driving government vehicles, driving private vehicles on government business or when using electronic equipment supplied by the state while driving. The directive defines “texting” or “text messaging” as reading from or entering data into any handheld or other electronic device.

In order to give state agency directors time to inform employees of the new policy, the executive order will not become effective until February 1.

Studies conclude that motorists’ use of handheld electronic devices while driving can be significant distractions. According to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, these distractions contribute to hundreds of injury accidents each year and have also been cited in a number of fatal crashes.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia currently ban text messaging while driving.