New Texting-While-Driving Law In Effect In Oklahoma
TULSA, Oklahoma - More than 250 new laws went on the books in Oklahoma on Sunday. One of the biggest: The state's new ban on texting while driving.
The law comes after a driver crashed into two troopers in January. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said the man was texting while driving when he killed Trooper Nicholas Dees and injured Trooper Keith Burch.
And OHP already has begun its crackdown. On Sunday, Trooper Matt Hughart pulled over a driver for not wearing a seatbelt, but he also made sure he wasn't texting.
Hughart and his colleagues now have another tool to target drivers looking down at their phones for text messages.
“They’re just so used to doing it, they don't even realize it anymore,” Hugheart said. “That's why if they're sitting in a chair at the house, or in their vehicle moving down the highway or on the city street that they're doing it."
The new law does allow you to use your phone for maps, but directions have to be entered before you start driving.
“If you need to text or make that phone call, find a parking lot, pull off the roadway and do it in a safe manner," Hugheart said.
Drivers we spoke with think the new law will help spread the word about the dangers of texting and driving.
“As far as I'm concerned, I think it's a great thing as far as driving… sometimes we get carried away being on the phone and we have to text real quick, we forget to pay attention on the roads,” Rene Oshomuvwe said. “Sometimes I've done that, and I have to remind myself, 'Hey I'm driving on the highway."
"I have teenagers,” Valerie Boe said. “I don't want them texting and driving. Will it prevent them? I don't know. I hope. I hope it will just be a re-enforcement."
“If there was no traffic, I would go right for it,” Chris Washington said. “I think now I'm going to be more looking through my mirrors looking for police now.”
A bevy of other laws also went into effect across the state today.
- Oklahoma is preparing for the possibility that lethal injections could be ruled unconstitutional - and today nitrogen gas was added to options for the state's executions.
- Fire departments may take volunteer firefighters age 45 and older.
- A couple laws are aimed at the state's health system.
- Oklahoma is now a right-to-try state, meaning terminally ill patients can try drugs that haven't yet received FDA approval.
- And in an effort to cut down on prescription drug abuse, doctors are now required to check a central database to see if patients are trying to get prescription drugs illegally.
- A new gun law going into effect will allow folks who have misdemeanor drug offenses to apply for handgun carry licenses.
- Another new law will affect how your younger children ride in your car: The new law states that all children 8 and under must be in some sort of booster seat. And all children aged 2-4 must be in a front-facing car seat.
- Two new laws will give you the option of registering to vote or renewing your license online. The system for both of those may take some time to set up.