NORMAN — The Oklahoma House is again taking up the issue of texting while driving. It’s a noble cause, noting that texting while driving is more dangerous than drinking and driving.
But the bill, as written, doesn’t seem enforceable. It may work if a driver is involved in an accident and the cell phone is seized. As it is written, police officers will have to witness a driver writing, reading or sending a text message, instant message or email before a citation is given.
Rep. Curtis McDaniel’s bill calls for a fine of up to $500 for offenders. Some national studies show that 16,000 traffic deaths have been linked to texting while driving. Drivers’ reaction time is slowed significantly if their attention is transferred from driving to texting.
It’s a noble effort, but realistically it’s going to take an attitude change on the part of drivers, much like it has been for attitudes toward drunken driving and seat belt use. Police already can cite drivers for failure to devote full attention to driving. That rule ought to be enforced more often.
Government agencies and most large companies have banned texting while driving. Employees face punishment, including termination, if they violate the ban. Cell phone and insurance companies have joined in efforts to stop the practice.