The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

February 28, 2013

Okla. texting ban derailed in House committee

OKLAHOMA CITY — A Republican-controlled House committee derailed a bill Thursday to ban texting while driving in Oklahoma, citing concerns that it would be difficult to enforce and jeopardizes personal freedoms.

One day after supporters of the ban rallied at the Capitol, the House Calendar Committee tabled the bill by Rep. Curtis McDaniel, D-Smithville.

"It's not dead," McDaniel said. "What we've got to do now is rally the troops and convince those 15 members to bring the bill back up.

"There's a whole lot more people for this than there are against this measure. Maybe not legislator-wise, but you poll the people on the street, you'd get 85 to 90 percent of the people who favor a texting ban."

McDaniel's bill would make it illegal for any driver to "compose, send, or read a text-based communication" while driving, with fines of up to $500 for violations. It passed last week through the House Transportation Committee but needed to clear the Calendar Committee before proceeding to a floor vote.

A texting ban is in place for teenage drivers with a learner's permit or intermediate driver's license, and former Gov. Brad Henry signed an executive order in 2010 barring state workers from text messaging while driving government vehicles.

House Speaker T.W. Shannon said Thursday he was among those who opposed similar bills in the past because of concerns over how it would be enforced.

"I think there is a slippery-slope argument to be made about what people are doing inside their cars, especially as technology changes so quickly," said Shannon, R-Lawton.

Oklahoma drivers can be cited for distracted driving, but only as a secondary offense, which means an officer would have to witness them breaking a traffic law, such as following too closely or changing lanes improperly, Oklahoma Highway Patrol chief Kerry Pettingill said. A driver cannot be stopped or ticketed simply for using a cellphone, even if an officer witnessed them texting while driving.

Rep. Josh Cockcroft, a member of the Calendar Committee who opposed the bill, said Shannon's opposition to the bill and concerns over government's encroachment on an individual's personal freedoms were among the reasons he voted to table it.

"I'll be the first to say it's dangerous and foolish to text while driving," said Cockcroft, R-Tecumseh. "But where do you stop? Can I not eat a cheeseburger in my car?"


Online: House Bill 1503


Text Only
National and world
  • Economic Recovery web.jpg U.S. economy, though sluggish, may now be sturdier

    • Inflation is under control. Runaway price increases would be destructive. Low inflation can lay a foundation for growth.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast web.jpg Casualty numbers raise questions about Gaza war

    A Palestinian health official put the death toll at 695 and said more than 4,100 were wounded, with civilian casualties rising sharply since Israel sent tanks and troops into Gaza last week in its first ground operation in five years.
    Israel has not offered its own count, but Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said Wednesday that 210 Gaza militants were killed since the ground operation began.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Oil Train Fires web.jpg Stopping deadly oil train fires: New rules planned

    Accident investigators have complained for decades that older tank cars, known as DOT-111s, are too easily punctured or ruptured, spilling their contents when derailed. Since 2008, there have been 10 significant derailments in the U.S. and Canada in which crude oil has spilled from ruptured tank cars, often igniting and resulting in huge fireballs. The worst was a runaway oil train that exploded in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic a year ago, killing 47 people.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Taiwan Plane Crash web.jpg Relatives fly to Taiwan plane crash site, 48 dead

    Penghu in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China late Wednesday, authorities said. The plane was on a flight from the city of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arizona Execution web.jpg Arizona inmate dies 2 hours after execution began

    Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne’s office said Joseph Rudolph Wood was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m., one hour and 57 minutes after the execution started.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Flights Canceled Israel web.jpg Airlines ban flights to Israel after rocket strike

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Health overhaul web.jpg Dueling rulings: Courts split on health law clash

    But the split rulings don’t necessarily mean another trip to the Supreme Court for the Affordable Care Act.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Senate Georgia web.jpg Perdue defeats Kingston in Georgia Senate runoff

    Tuesday night’s primary runoff win validates Perdue’s campaign as an outsider.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • ODD Brooklyn Bridge M_Hass.jpg Police probing switch of flags on Brooklyn Bridge

    Video footage of the security breach shows the unidentified people walking on the bridge's footpath at about 3:10 a.m., and 20 minutes later the light on the bridge's Brooklyn tower flickers and goes dark. The same thing happens about 12 minutes later on the Manhattan tower.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Veterans Health_Hass.jpg Obama nominee McDonald pledges to ‘transform’ VA

    Robert McDonald cited problems with patient access to health care, transparency, accountability and integrity, among other issues, during a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee over his nomination today.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo 3 Stories

Featured Ads