Editorial: Text message to Legislature: Pass this bill
BY World's Editorials Writers
Friday, February 22, 2013
2/22/13 at 6:57 AM
Sometimes having a broad law governing dangerous behavior just is not enough: Lawmakers need to spell out specifically that the practice is prohibited. Such is the case against texting while driving.
Oklahoma has a distracted driving law, and, yes, it technically applies to texting while behind the wheel. But it obviously has done little to dissuade this rampant and incredibly dangerous practice, especially among younger drivers.
This week, a House committee approved legislation to outlaw texting while driving - a measure that would allow a fine of as much as $500 for people caught using a cellphone to write, send or read a text message, instant message or email while driving.
House Bill 1503 is sponsored by Rep. Curtis McDaniel, D-Smithville, who points out what other states have recognized - texting can be at least six times more dangerous than drinking while driving.
Oklahoma is among only a handful of states that has not passed a law directly outlawing the practice.
Opponents argue - lamely - that such a law would be difficult to enforce and takes away personal liberties. Get real. Lots of laws are difficult to enforce, but we still keep those laws on the books.
Driving is a privilege, not a right. And while we're on the topic of rights, what about the rights of drivers who aren't texting while maneuvering 5,000 pounds of steel down the highway at, say, 70 mph? Don't they have a right to stay alive, to make it home to their families?
At a committee hearing Josh Cockroft, R-Tecumseh, worried about enforceability and about writing laws to address issues that really are issues of personal responsibility.
"Where do we draw the line of personal responsibility and freedom and security and freedom?" Here's the short answer, Rep. Cockroft: You and your fellow lawmakers draw the line right here, by putting in place a ban against driving while texting for all drivers.
If this bill or any others banning this dangerous behavior fail this session, Oklahomans would be safe in making one assumption - their elected officials simply don't care if they live or die.
Original Print Headline: Text message