Word is that a bill proposing a ban on text-messaging while driving won't be voted on by the Oklahoma House of Representatives, largely because Speaker T.W. Shannon isn't a fan of the idea. Shannon should give House members a chance to weigh in.
Under House Bill 1503 by Rep. Curtis McDaniel, D-Smithville, motorists could be fined up to $500 if caught using a cellphone to write, send or read a text message or email while driving. It includes exceptions for emergency response personnel, firefighters and law enforcement.
The bill made it out of the House Transportation Committee but reportedly won't make it to the House floor. Thursday is the deadline to vote on House bills that originated in the House. (A similar bill in the Senate was spiked in committee.)
Shannon, R-Lawton, reportedly has concerns about whether such a law would be enforceable. That's no reason to kill it. Indeed, many in the law enforcement community — the men and women who would be responsible for writing the tickets — support the idea.
HB 1503 has no organized opposition. Thirty-nine other states have similar bans against texting at the wheel. Certainly many of them share Oklahomans' views that less government is better. But they also understand that anti-texting laws serve as a deterrent to what is a highly dangerous practice — not just to the person doing the texting, but to other motorists.
“Why we continue to send the message that texting behind the wheel is OK to do is beyond me,” said AAA Oklahoma's Chuck Mai, who is understandably exasperated. “This is our fourth year trying to get a law passed. What year is going to be the year we finally wake up and tell our drivers in Oklahoma that this is so dangerous?”