Texting While Driving Can Be Deadly

Tuesday, May 6th 2008, 10:49 pm
By: News On 6

A Green Country family grieves after a fatal car crash killed a Collinsville man.  Troopers believe driving while texting led to the crash.  The News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports troopers say the 19- year-old driver was focused on his phone, didn't stop at a stop sign and slammed into 38-year-old Scott Forbes, who was on his Harley.

We all see it every day-drivers text messaging while driving, glancing back and forth between the road and the phone and swerving the whole time.

Police say any distraction behind the wheel is a bad one, but, unfortunately, state lawmakers recently took away a law that let officers stop distracted driving.

Scott Forbes was a country guy; he liked to hunt, grew a vegetable garden and had tried his hand at riding bucking broncs in the rodeo.  He was the youngest of three kids who was hoping to get married soon.

All those dreams ended on May 1st, when he was killed after he'd stopped for a loaf of bread on his way home from work.

"We've all been in complete shock and devastation over this whole ordeal," said his sister, Patti Shipley.

The news was difficult enough for Scott's family, but, even worse when they learned texting was part of the cause.  It seemed such a senseless reason to lose a life.

Police say anything that takes your focus off the task of driving is bad, but texting may be the worst.

"Even more than being on the phone because you have to take your eyes and hands, eyes off the road and hands off the wheel to see what you're typing or texting, just horrible," said Tulsa Police Corporal Steve Wood.

Oklahoma had a law that let officers give tickets for inattentive driving, so if they saw someone putting on make-up, reading, talking on the phone and it affected their driving, officers could pull them over for it.

But, state legislators changed the law last year.  Now, officers can only give inattentive driving tickets if a wreck is involved.  To police, that's too late.

"We would like the ability to enforce that in the first place without legislature passing separate laws for makeup, cell phones, eating. We already had one that covered all that before," said Tulsa Police Corporal Steve Wood.

Certainly, the Forbes family knows the pain distracted driving can cause.  A life they treasured is now gone forever.

"He was a wonderful person, do anything for anybody, just hard with him not being around," said his sister, Patti Shipley.

If you think lawmakers should change the inattentive driving law back to the way it was for decades, contact them.  If you're not sure who your lawmaker is, click here.

Corporal Wood says if drivers would slow down, back off, pay attention, and signal their intentions, the vast majority of the 17,000 wrecks in Tulsa every year could be prevented.