Chuck Mai, vice president of public affairs for AAA Oklahoma, makes the point that current statutes regarding distracted driving are secondary offenses. Under HB 1503, texting at the wheel would give police cause to make a traffic stop. “It's preventive medicine,” Mai said. Using the slippery slope analogy, would today's Republicans have opposed vehicle child restraints because child endangerment was already against the law?
What's particularly puzzling about the anti-texting bill is the apparent lack of organized opposition to the idea. Indeed, the Department of Public Safety, the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office and several police departments are among the groups that comprise Drive Aware Oklahoma, a coalition pushing for the anti-texting legislation. These are groups that would be responsible for enforcing the law, and they're for it.
On the other hand, tobacco companies were strongly opposed to the idea of allowing municipalities in Oklahoma to approve their own anti-smoking laws. This certainly contributed to the demise this session of a Senate bill that sought to do just that. The issue, which has been promoted the past several years, is now apparently dead in the Legislature until 2015.
Our hope is that the anti-texting bill isn't dead and instead has just been put on silent for a time.