Driving While InTEXTicated: Cell Phone Driving Laws

Thursday, July 16th 2009, 11:25 am
By: News On 6

By Doug Warner, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- More 80% of Oklahomans surveyed by Griffin Communications said they want a law to keep drivers from texting.

But without laws on the books, Oklahomans are left with many questions. In the five part series 'Driving While InTEXTicated' NEWS 9 examines driving and texting on Oklahoma roads.

A Texas bus driver caught on tape driving and texting had become the nation's poster child for why not to text and drive.

NEWS 9 went out on the road to find people using their cell phones while driving. Within the first five minutes of filming, they found a driver using a cell phone. Drivers were shot driving and talking, driving and texting and using their cell phone while speeding through downtown.

In Tulsa, NEWS 9's Doug Warner rode shotgun with veteran police officer Keith Fallis. While riding around the city, a driver on a conference call ran a red light and nearly hit Fallis' vehicle.

When Officer Fallis recommended the driver hang up the phone and drive, they responded they usually wore a headset, but had left it at home.

Lawmaker after lawmaker has tried, but Oklahoma remains one of only 16 states without any laws prohibiting cell phone driving on the books.

OSU-OKC driving instructor Randy Jacoby tested Doug Warner's reaction time on a controlled driving course. The more he used his cell phone while driving, the more cones he hit.

Research published by Car & Driver Magazine just last month illustrates further how much using a cell phone impairs drivers.

At 70 miles per hour an unimpaired driver can break for 'real' road conditions in a half second. A legally drunk driver, add 4 more feet to their reaction time. But a driver sending a text, their reaction time is 15 times worse than a drunk driver.

Jacoby believes the state needs more restrictions. Supporters of cell phone laws like Jacoby hope to gain momentum with a new legislative study. The House Public Safety Committee is learning this summer, about the effects of using a cell phone while driving. Prague Representative Danny Morgan said he's hopeful it will emphasize the risks of distracted driving.