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El Reno Tribune 11/04/2015

4A NEWS

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

El Reno Tribune

Oklahoma bans texting while behind the wheel


Oklahoma officially
became the 46th state
to ban texting while
driving, a law that
legislators say is an
effort to make Oklahoma
roadways safer by
reducing the number
of distracted drivers.
The law went into
effect Nov. 1.
House Bill 1965,
authored by Rep. Terry
ODonnell, makes
texting while driving a
primary offense, which
means an officer can
pull a person over
without witnessing any
other violations, and
imposes a maximum
$100 fine for violation of
the law. The law exempts
drivers who are using
their phone to
communicate with
emergency responders
while driving.
This is a wake-up call
not just for teen drivers
but all of us who have
become accustomed to
the constant contact
our cellular devices
provide, said Speaker
of the House Jeffrey W.
Hickman, R-Fairview.
Texting while driving
is becoming one of the
leading causes of death,
which is not surprising
as a National Highway

Traffic Safety
Administration study
shows typing or reading
text on a cell phone
is six times more
dangerous than driving
while intoxicated.
The measure received
overwhelming support
in the Legislature,
passing out of the House
by a vote of 85-7 and out
of the Senate by a vote of
38-6 before being signed
into law by Gov. Mary
Fallin in May.
More than 330,000
injuries each year are
caused by texting and
driving across the
nation, said ODonnell,
R-Tulsa. Although we
do not know when,
where or who, what we
do know is that this law
will prevent needless
property damage and
injuries and it will save
lives on Oklahomas
roads and highways.
According to the
Department of Public
Safety, in 2013 data,
distracted drivers using
electronic devices
caused more than 600
auto crashes, including
14 fatal accidents. The
danger to Oklahomans
has only increased as
cell phone ownership
has soared during

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important public safety


issue, but it is personal
for the Department of
Public Safety and the
Oklahoma Highway
Patrol, said Thompson.

FELONIES
Geneva Raynell
Guzman, El Reno,
unlawful possession of
a controlled dangerous
substance with intent
to distribute and
unlawful possession of
drug paraphernalia.
Jerry Willis
Alexander, Milwaukee,
Wis., unlawful

possession of a
controlled dangerous
substance with intent
to distribute and
maintaining a controlled
dangerous substance in
a motor vehicle.
Joshua Bryan
Enriquez, Yukon,
unlawful possession of
a controlled dangerous
substance with intent to

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while driving, said


Steve Hahn, president
of AT&T Oklahoma.
Through our It Can
Wait campaign, weve
worked hard to raise
awareness about this
issue with Oklahomans
and remind all drivers
to keep their eyes on
the road, not on their
phones. It will take all
of us working together
to combat this deadly
practice, and this law
is an important step
toward making our
Oklahoma roadways
safer.
Pioneer Cellular
supports the new
distracted driving law
and has been promoting
safe driving through our
Commit, Drive Dont
Text campaign
throughout western
Oklahoma, said Pioneer
Cellular general
manager Richard Ruhl.
The law is known as
the Trooper Nicholas
Dees and Trooper Keith
Burch Act of 2015, in
memory of state trooper
Nic Dees and in honor
of state trooper Keith
Burch.
A driver who was
texting struck the
troopers Feb. 9 while
they were working a
traffic accident on I-40.
Dees was killed and
Burch received
devastating injuries.

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the past decade, said


Oklahoma Department
of Public Safety
Commissioner Michael
Thompson.
This is not only an

In February, a state
trooper was killed in
the line of duty and
another trooper was
seriously injured with
life-threatening injuries
that he is still recovering
from today. This
traumatic incident
occurred because a
driver was updating his
social media accounts
instead of watching the
road.
Thompson believes
Oklahomas new law will
help other families and
other law enforcement
officers avoid additional
tragedies in the future.
Trooper Nic Dees
never made it home to
his family, just like
dozens of other
Oklahomans each year
who are killed by
distracted driving,
Thompson said. Not
only is texting while
driving senseless, it is
selfish. I know that all of
our troopers and their
families are very happy
that this law was passed
because they deal with
the consequences of
distracted driving every
day.
Several
telecommunications
providers also supported
the bill.
AT&T applauds the
efforts of the Oklahoma
Legislature for taking
steps to ban texting

distribute, acquiring
proceeds from drug
activity and driving
while under the
influence of drugs.
Matthew Tyler Huff,
Mustang, unlawful
possession of a
controlled dangerous
substance with intent
to distribute, unlawful
possession of drug

paraphernalia,
possession of a firearm
during commission of a
felony and driving with
license suspended.
Ralph Joseph
Mendoza Jr., El Reno,
obtaining controlled
substance by fraud.
James Edward Dye Jr.,
Oklahoma City, burglary
in the second degree.

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