Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

April 11, 2013

Most want texting while driving banned

TAHLEQUAH — Failure to pay attention to your surroundings while driving can be fatal.

Just three years ago, over 3,000 people were killed in car accidents as a result of distracted driving, according to the official U.S. government website for distracted driving. The motor club and leisure travel organization AAA reported that in 2011, more than 3,300 people were killed, and 387,000 were injured in crashes that involved a distracted driver.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is spearheading an effort to stop people from being able to text or use their cell phones when driving. Currently, commercial drivers have been banned from texting and cell phone use, and states have been encouraged to adopt laws regulating attentive driving.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and organizations like the U.S. Department of Transportation, the National Safety Council, the National Transportation Safety Board and AAA are encouraging drivers to learn more about the dangers of the cognitive distraction to the brain as a result of cell phone use, eating, putting on makeup, changing the radio station and even talking to children in the back seat while driving.

“As an advocate for the safety of the driving public, AAA urges motorists to voluntarily stop this dangerous and often deadly behavior,” said AAA Oklahoma spokesman Chuck Mai.

Though there is growing support for the ban on texting while driving, two House bills – House Bill 1503 and HB 1105 – are not being heard as a result of floor-time derailment by the Republican-controlled Calendar Committee.

HB 1503, by State Rep. Curtis McDaniel, D-Smithville, would have made it illegal to use a cell phone or electronic communication device to compose, send or read a text while the car is in motion.

HB 1105, by State Rep. Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah, would have made it illegal to use a cell phone or electronic communication device to talk, write, send, or read a text  while in a school zone, construction zone or within 500 feet of an intersection, unless the electronic communication device was used with a hands-free device. Punishments for violators of HB 1503 would have been a $500 fine, including court costs, while the consequences for violating HB 1105 could have included a $500 fine, county jail imprisonment for up to 30 days, or both measures.

More and more, people are jumping on the bandwagon to banning use of cell phones or talking devices while driving, but some lawmakers are not ready to listen. People advocating for personal rights are also contributing to the delay in floor time for either house bill, said Brown.

“They feel like use of a cell phone inside their vehicle is an individual right,” he said. “Well, it’s my right to have a safe road to drive on.”

According to AAA Oklahoma, more than nine in 10 AAA members support a statewide ban on texting for all drivers, while nearly three out of four members support a ban on the use of hand-held and hands-free cell phones while driving, except in an emergency situation.

There are currently 11 states without a ban on texting while driving, including Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Montana, South Dakota, Missouri, Mississippi, South Carolina, Florida and Hawaii. Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, South Dakota, Missouri and Mississippi, however, do have partial bans on cell phone use, restricting learners’ permit holders, intermediate license holders, and school bus and public transit drivers. In Missouri, it’s illegal for drivers 21 and younger to text while driving.

“I have personally have been run off the road and have been bumped at an intersection [because of someone texting while driving]. Or I’ve had to wait at an intersection because of a person texting,” said Brown. “Texting and talking are two different things. Texting takes your eyes away from the road 100 percent, and you lose full attention. School zones, construction zones and intersections are three places, I think, where full your attention is needed.”

Brown noted access to free phone apps to help curb the habit of texting or hand-held device use.

“Right now, I believe through AT&T, you can download an app that will send a text message to the person who’s texting you that will say ‘this person is driving,’” he said. “Our technology will catch up with us, but getting a mandate in place is another thing.”

According to Mashable.com, five apps will either control the message or disable the function while driving.

DriveOff is an Android app made available by the car insurance company Esure. This app detects when drivers are traveling at more than 10 mph and shuts off other distracting apps while temporarily halting incoming calls and text messages.

The AT&T app called DriveMode automatically activates itself when the car is detected moving more than 25 mph and sends a written response, which says the person is driving and will make contact soon, to incoming texts and emails while calls are forwarded to voicemail.

TextBuster is a hardware device that can be installed into the car of the person needing cell phone or hand-held device restriction. The phone can still make and receive calls, but texting, e-mail and Internet access are disabled while the car is in motion.

Respondents to the Daily Press’ Facebook question about support for a texting and/or use of cell phone ban produced mixed results. Most people were in support of banning texting and talking while driving, but several respondents said they believe the law would take away another individual rights and not increase safety on the roads.

John Morgan said he supports the ban and noted seeing law officials staring at their phones behind the wheels of their cruisers.

“I agree with the ban of texting and driving, and I have also witnessed police officers texting while driving,” he said.

Donna Jones agrees that texting while driving is a problem.

“I can tell [when] someone is texting in heart beat. They are all over the road, and I am sick of it,” she said. “I want it stopped.”

Darlene Ralls supports a ban on texting while driving, but doesn’t support a ban on the use of cell phones while driving.

“A lot of us work and drive and have to talk to clients, but that’s where [the Apple iOS app]  Siri comes in,” she said. “[You just say] call so and so, and you don’t have to look through your phone book to call.”

Keith Moore doesn’t support a ban on texting or use of a cell phone while driving.

“We[’ve] got enough laws already,” he said. “We’re losing our freedom one law at a time.”

Jon Edwards can’t text or talk while riding his motorcycle and supports a ban on all use of a phone while driving.

“As a motorcycle driver, I say ban for sure. Ban everything to do with a phone in a car,” he said.

 

To see the complete version of this article, subscribe to the Daily Press e-edition by following the link below.

Click here to get the entire Tahlequah Daily Press delivered every day to your home or office.

Click here to get a free trial or to subscribe to the Tahlequah Daily Press electronic edition. It's the ENTIRE newspaper (without the paper) for your computer, iPad or e-reader.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • ths-jazz-2.jpg THS jazz band gets up early to hone performance skills

    It means getting up an hour earlier, and it doesn’t count as a class, but the jazz band at Tahlequah High School enjoys the dedication of a group of enthusiastic students.
    The THS Jazz Band practices every day at 7 a.m., an hour before the start of classes. It numbers 17, and is led by Director Orien Landis.
    “They have to do this before school and they get no class credit, but we have a full band,” Landis said. “They are really excited about this.”

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Easter-basket-kid.jpg Easter traditions date back centuries

    Some Christians may lament a partial shift of focus, but a Christian holy day - perhaps the most holy of all – is this Sunday, and it will be marked with celebrations all around the world.
    The Christian holiday of Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. For centuries, the observant have fasted, reflected or done penance in the weeks leading to the holiday. But today, many also associate the holiday with the Easter bunny, candy, and kites. In 2013, Americans spent $2.1 billion on Easter candy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Some oppose minimum wage hike; others decry strong-arming by state

    President Barack Obama and the U.S. Senate recently announced a push to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour, to $10.10. On the heels of the announcement, an initiative petition was introduced in Oklahoma City to raise the minimum wage to the suggested $10.10. If it gained 80,000 signatures, it would be put to a vote of the people.
    This legislative session, a bill passed prohibiting municipalities from setting a minimum was or vacation and sick-day requirements. Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill into law earlier this week.

    April 18, 2014

  • Phone scam takes $500 from couple

    Authorities are warning Cherokee County residents to watch for a costly phone scam that recently targeted a local couple and ended in their loss of $500.
    According to sheriff’s deputies, a couple contacted authorities after losing $500 to the scam. The couple received a phone call from a man who identified himself only as “Mr. Green.” He told the couple they had won $1.5 million through Publisher’s Clearing House, but to collect the money, the couple would have to purchase a $500 money card to cover various fees.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missing local teen found dead

    The body of a missing 17-year-old boy was found in southern Cherokee County on Thursday, sheriff’s investigators said.
    Brikk Pritchett was reported missing earlier this month after disappearing on March 30, a day before his 17th birthday.

    April 18, 2014

  • ts honor flight 1.tif Flight of honor

    World War II veteran Charles Harra flew missions for the Army Air Corps, and if you ask him which flight was his most memorable, he’ll say it was his 35th mission.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man charged after leading authorities on wild chase

    Prosecutors have formally charged a man who allegedly led authorities on a wild high-speed pursuit across Cherokee County in late March.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sex offender bonds out after failing to register

    A Cherokee County man is out on bond after being arrested last week for failing to register as a sex offender.

    April 17, 2014

  • jn radiator shop.jpg ‘Greenbelt’ progressing

    Crews this week began to demolish an abandoned radiator shop at the corner of South Street and Guinn Avenue.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts slut walk.tif SlutWalk shines spotlight on crime

    “Two, four, six, eight, stop the violence, stop the rape; slut, slut, ho, ho, yes means yes and no means no!”
    This was the battle cry across the campus of Northeastern State University, as the student branch of the American Association of University Women held its third annual SlutWalk Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Stocks