Walk into any restaurant, and you will see in addition to diners eating and talking, you will observe that many have their cell phones in hand. Some are using their phones to snap photos of their food, others are chatting, and others are buried reading something on the screen, despite having one or more dining companions at the table with them. People are so attached to their smartphones that some even take their phones with them on a trip to the loo. So if people cannot part with their phones during a quick trip to the potty, it makes sense that this behavior continues when people step behind the wheel.
In May of 2015, lawmakers in Oklahoma finally passed a law that bans motorists from using their cellphones to text or send emails while behind the wheel. The law went into effect on November 1, 2015. Now, with the ban in place for just over a year, the law is starting to face some criticism, and rightly so.
The intent of the law was to make the roadways safer, but it seems that it is not having the desired effect due to problems with enforcement. The chief problem is that even though the law prohibits drivers from using their cell phones while behind the wheel, it is a challenge for law enforcement to prove that a motorist is breaking the law since the officer must see the driver using their phone. When a driver is texting and driving, the phone is often held out of the sight lines of law enforcement officers.
As of November of last year, Oklahoma City police have issued less than 200 citations to drivers found breaking the text ban law. Police officers in Norman Oklahoma have issued only 14 text-related warnings and 47 citations since the law took effect. But Oklahoma is not alone in its enforcement woes. Other states have reported similar problems enforcing local bans on texting while driving. In fact, officers in some states have had to adopt creatives methods in an attempt to catch motorists in the act. According to an article by the Associated Press, officers in areas of Tennessee have taken to the use of tractor-trailers while patrolling so that they are at a better vantage point to spot drivers breaking the law.
However, creative policing is not the solution. For many critics, the obvious solution to the problem is to broaden the law to ban the use of any handheld device behind the wheel. Currently, 14 states have such laws. The Oklahoma Legislature may need to consider strongly adopting such a ban, as the number of deaths due to cell phone usage and distraction continue to rise. In 2015, an estimated 3,500 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers according to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
If you or a loved one was seriously injured after being involved in an auto accident with a driver was texting or otherwise distracted, you owe it to yourself to contact an experienced Oklahoma Personal Injury Attorney as soon as possible. Only a skilled Injury Attorney can properly examine the facts of your case and determine whether you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. The Oklahoma Injury Attorneys at The Handley Law Center are compassionate advocates who understand the devastating impact a serious car crash can have on a victim. Trust our team of qualified attorneys to help you obtain the justice you deserve. To schedule a free and completely confidential consultation with one of our seasoned injury attorneys, contact The Handley Law Center today at (405) 295-1924.