Oklahoma Highway Patrol cracks down on distracted drivers

Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 10:22 PM CST
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DURANT, Okla. (KXII) - “Put those phones down because you’re either going to kill yourself, or kill someone.”, said Shelley Russell.

On February 1st, 2015, Shelley Russell received news that her only child, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper, Nicholas Dees, was in a fatal car crash.

She said, “They had told me that Nicholas had been in an accident, and he had not made it.”

The cause of the wreck? Distracted driving.

Russell said the driver that hit Trooper Dees was on his 189th text of the night at the time of the crash.

She continued, “All it takes is one. Less than three seconds, your eyes off the road, and you can go the length of a football field, and that’s what happened to Nicholas.”

Russell said she lost everything, because one text couldn’t wait.

She elaborated, “And there was a law put into place to move over, and don’t text and drive, but it’s still going on.”

Which is why Russell and OHP troopers have spent the past 8 years raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.

OHP Captain Scott Hampton said, “So in the next two weeks, we will be increasing our presence out and we will be having troopers monitoring looking for any kind of distracted driving, cell phone use, things that can contribute and do contribute to our collisions.”

Captain Hampton said it’s driving safety campaigns like this one, that can’t wait.

He expressed, “It’s a tragic loss for his family, and his kids and his parents but he has had a major impact in changing the way state law enforcement operates and has added some tools for us to be able to combat that.”

Mrs. Russell said she doesn’t want anyone else to experience this pain and concluded, “You’ve got a mom here that lives with gut wrenching pain every single day because you chose to pick that phone up.”