An alarming trend

By: Teddy Safo Email
By: Teddy Safo Email

ARDMORE, Okla. -- An Oklahoma lawmaker believes drivers are doing more than just talking on their phones while on the road. Representative Paul Wesselhoft says sending text messages while driving is a growing but dangerous trend.

Technically, ‘texting while driving’ is not illegal in the state of Oklahoma. In fact, there isn’t a law against it, but one Oklahoma lawmaker wants to make test messaging while driving illegal.

District 54 Representative Paul Wesselhoft says he noticed the danger when he saw his own son get distracted, and that's when he decided to try to make driving in Oklahoma safer.

"My son, the other day, was going over the white line, and I nudged him and said ‘pay attention,’ and I realized he was text messaging. That’s when I got the idea for this bill."

"There’s not a current statue on that, but with that we see people on phones, and that divided attention making unsafe lane changes," says Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper Ken Duncan.

They say the number of accidents in Oklahoma involving drivers using cell phones backs that up. There were eight times more accidents involving cell phones last year then there were nine years ago.

"In 1998, there were only 98 crashes. In 2006, there were 802 crashes. That’s a big jump," says Duncan.

Those statistics came from the Oklahoma Department of Safety, and that's why Wesselhoft wants stiffer penalties for using a cell phone in any way, and law enforcement backs him up.

"It’s just going to grow to a number that it might not be cell phones but all technical devices to where its taking away attention from what they are doing when they need to be driving," says Trooper Duncan.

"If there’s a wreck and is attributable to cell phone use, it’s a misdemeanor, which is a 20-day mandatory sentence and a $1,000 fine," says Representative Wesselhoft.

If Wesselhoft gets his way, and you get caught “texting while driving,” you could end up paying a stiff penalty.

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  • by Pat Location: Sherman on Jul 25, 2007 at 07:39 AM
    There were (5) beautiful girls killed in a head on collision because the driver was text messaging. They all were seniors that had graduated from high school. This was an awful tragedy that could have been prevented. I agree with the comments about having common sense but we don't always apply them. We should really watch putting on make-up, talking on the cell-phone, text messaging and drinking while driving. The majority of the accidents happening are due to us not paying attention or trying to get somewhere too fast.
  • by JC Location: Denison on Jul 23, 2007 at 11:22 AM
    I really hope Gary meant that comment as a joke. We are very much becoming a Nanny State..every little move regulated and no one is held accountable for poor choices..."poor girl, the evil cell phone killed her" how idiotic.
  • by Gary Location: Sherman on Jul 21, 2007 at 07:15 AM
    Simple solution, procecute the makers of the phones for every accident caused by text messaging while driving. Or better yet,ban the manufacturing of the phones entirely.
  • by Logical Thinker Location: Texas on Jul 20, 2007 at 01:13 PM
    I have and ideal lets try and inforce the laws we already have. Instead of making some B.S. law that would be even harder to control than the influx of illegal aliens into the United States. --AMEN!!!!! Also, how are the officers to see if a person is Texting on their cell phone? How can they PROOVE they are texting? That is the most rediculous thing I've ever heard! Don't you think our officers should be putting their attention to more serious crimes, since there are already other laws to cover this? I do.
  • by Betty Location: Sherman on Jul 20, 2007 at 12:28 PM
    Good god, people. Get your heads out of your butts and drive right. And teach your kids dos and dont's. It's not rocket science.
  • by Lizanne Location: Enos on Jul 20, 2007 at 11:32 AM
    I have and ideal lets try and inforce the laws we already have. Instead of making some B.S. law that would be even harder to control than the influx of illegal aliens into the United States.
  • by amber freeman Location: ardmore on Jul 20, 2007 at 09:22 AM
    i don't think this is a good i deal to send people to jail for texting they should just get a fine or ticket not go to jail don't u think that's a little to much...
  • by I Agree Location: Ardmore on Jul 20, 2007 at 07:24 AM
    It bothers me that state legislation is now having to legislate common sense. I agree that this is an issue especially among the younger drivers who are more familiar with texting and obviously less familiar with common sense. Drinking and driving is still illegal yet it is still done. Yes, law enforcement catches some but how is the real message going to get out? Education, responsiblity and accountablity all start at home.
  • by T Location: Pottsboro on Jul 19, 2007 at 08:39 PM
    We need to also make putting on make-up while driving a crime also I see lots of ladies looking in mirror putting on make-up while driving.
  • by JC Location: Denison on Jul 19, 2007 at 06:24 PM
    I agree with the risk these devices pose, but aren't there already laws in place about paying full attention, or maintaining control or something of that nature that already cover the problem if enforced?
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