Oklahoma Drivers To Be Ticketed For Inattentive Driving

Thursday, July 8th 2010, 9:05 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- For everyone who's wished something can be done about drivers who text, put on their makeup, read their newspaper, eat cheeseburgers and reach on the floorboard for a lost item while driving, you're in luck.

A new law says officers can now write those people a ticket for inattentive driving.

In the past, officers could only ticket a driver for inattentive driving after the driver crashed. The new law, which goes into effect November first, let's officers write a ticket just for the behavior itself.

See What Other Law Enforcement Related Laws Take Effect In 2010

Lieutenant George Brown with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has seen plenty of distracted drivers over the years, but, until now, there was nothing he or any other officer could really do about it. Starting November 1, 2010, those drivers who are distracted and being unsafe can get a ticket.

What does he say to those people who believe they can text, talk, read, change radio stations or smoke while driving and still be safe?

"I say that vehicle is a 3,000 pound missile that goes in excess of 65 miles per hour and I don't care if you're the best multi-asker in the world, it is impossible to do things other than devote full time and attention to driving and maintain safety," Brown said.

The News On 6 was with Lieutenant Brown when he pulled a woman over. She never noticed the trooper's car driving next to her, because her eyes were mostly on her phone.

"Hello mam, how are you today? Do you know why I stopped you?" he asked her.

Haley knew the answer. She says not only does she look at her phone while driving, she does other things and admits it's probably not safe.

Lori Fullbright, The News On 6: "How distracted are you when you drive?"

Haley: "Usually I get down the road and if I've been looking at my phone, I can't remember anything from where I drove from."

She thinks the new law is a good idea but is not sure it will get her to change her ways. Like most people, she thinks a crash won't happen to her, but, last year, there were 71,218 crashes in Oklahoma and many of those were due to inattentive drivers.

"Even the best drivers in the world, professional drivers will tell you, you have to maintain good eye contact and be ready for anything on the road," Lieutenant Brown said.

Legislators also tightened up the left-lane hoverer law, which says people driving in the left lane who are holding up traffic can be ticketed.