OKLAHOMA CITY – State Sen. Debbe Leftwich applauded Gov. Brad Henry’s executive order to prohibit state employees from texting while driving. The prohibition would ban texting when public employees are driving on state business.
“This is a great start. Studies have shown texting while driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving—but this executive order only applies to state employees,” said Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City. “I will continue to push for passage of Senate Bill 900, which would ban teenagers from texting while behind the wheel.”
According to a study released by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, truckers texting while driving increased their risk of collision by 23 times. Research by the University of Utah showed that people using handheld or even hands-free cell phones while driving are as impaired as a person with a blood-alcohol limit of .08 percent—the minimum level to be arrested for drunk driving.
“Even without texting while driving, 24 percent of 16-year-olds get a ticket or are in a crash in their first year of driving. Texting just increases the odds of a tragedy in this age group—it isn’t a matter of if but when it will happen,” said Leftwich. “When people text and drive they aren’t watching the road, and because of this, innocent people have died. At the very least, we should target Oklahoma drivers who are already at a higher risk of being involved in an accident.”
Leftwich originally filed SB 900 in the 2009 session, but it was not given a hearing. She is hopeful that increased public awareness of the dangers of texting while driving may help her gain the support she needs for passage of the measure in the 2010 session.