Police Attribute Morning Wrecks On Highway 412 To Inattentive Driving
ROGERS COUNTY, Oklahoma - One crash set the stage for a second crash Wednesday morning, when a car pulled out in front of a semi on Highway 412 out east of Tulsa. During the clean-up, a second car hit a tow truck.
Both drivers, according to the highway patrol, weren't paying attention to the road.
There are lots of varieties of inattentive driving, but if you just limit it to electronics, in 2011 there were 1,833 accidents in Oklahoma where drivers freely admitted they were distracted by some gizmo in the car.
We don't know if that's what happened Wednesday morning, but authorities say it's a good example of the dangers of just looking away from the road.
Whenever you see drivers, you will see drivers on their phones, though that's not necessarily inattentive driving. There are all sorts of distractions inside cars now, and phones just add to it.
"We still find inattentives, even before the phones--just rubbernecking. People were rubbernecking, and they'd be looking at something and then traffic would stop for whatever reason, ahead of them, and - bam - they'd have it happen," said Officer Craig Murray, of Tulsa Police.
During the clean-up of the semi accident east of Tulsa, a car came flying across the lanes where first responders were working, and ended up in a ditch.
The driver was hurt after crashing into the rear end of a tow truck that had slowed down.
"I don't know what they were doing--looking at the crash? They weren't devoting their time and attention to driving, and they rear-ended him at highway speed," said Trooper Matt Lodgsen.
It's something that highway workers and first responders watch for constantly.
"When you take your eyes off the roadway, you are putting everybody that's in that work zone in danger," said Martin Stewart, with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
It's not illegal to use a phone, or do almost anything else, in the car, unless it rises to the level of inattentive driving.
Bicyclists are more aware than most of the danger.
"I look like a yield sign - neon, flashing light - and they still, people just aren't paying attention," said cyclist Bob Bennett.
He said he has the scars from distracted drivers.
"I've been hit three times since 1984--none of it my fault. Because of people not paying attention to what they were doing," Bennett said.
Officer Murray said it's an officer's discretion to write tickets for people not paying attention, but when they do, it's a $150 fine.
Tulsa police have written 99 of those tickets, so far this year; they wrote 280 for all of last year.