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
  • sr-Sherman-Alexie.jpg Native wit

    Sherman Alexie Jr., self-professed “res” American Indian, dislikes casinos, mascots and Oklahoma for stealing his favorite basketball team.
    Northeastern State University welcomed the celebrated poet, writer and filmmaker to campus Wednesday, and the audience was treated to 90 minutes of witty and unblinking observation from the perspective of an American Indian all-too-familiar with life on a reservation.
    Alexie, named one of the 21st Century’s top 20 writers by The New Yorker, delivered what was essentially a standup monologue to a packed house in the auditorium of the W. Roger Webb Educational Technology Center. Some of Alexie’s best-known works are “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven,” a book of short stories, and the film “Smoke Signals.”

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • rock-jodi.jpg Woman serving time for burning baby seeks judicial review

    A Cherokee County mother sentenced to 17 years in prison for burning her 14-month-old baby with an iron is asking for a judicial review.
    Court records show Jodi Leann Rock, 21, requested a copy of her judgment and sentence, and this week filed an application for a judicial review. Copies of her request have been submitted to a judge and the District Attorney’s Office.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • SR-SchoolCharter.jpg Concerns expressed as SB 573 awaits House vote

    With an Oklahoma Senate bill now awaiting a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, some parents are voicing concerns about the futures of rural K-8 schools in Cherokee County.
    Senate Bill 573 calls for a commission to establish charter schools throughout the state. A charter school receives taxpayer funding, but functions independently. They can be founded by an array of interests, including teachers, parents, universities and nonprofits. In Oklahoma, tribal entities can establish charter schools.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man gets suspended sentence for possession

    A 37-year-old Webbers Falls man has been given a suspended sentence on drug-possession charges.
    Dusty Kayl Skaggs was charged with endeavoring to manufacture methamphetamine earlier this year after he and 43-year-old Misty Hayes Paden, of Muskogee, were arrested during execution of a search warrant.

    April 24, 2014

  • sr-NSU-Earth-day.jpg NSU students observe Earth Day

    Students and members of the community converged on Northeastern State University’s Second Century Square on Tuesday to spend an afternoon celebrating Earth Day.
    The event featured tables sponsored by campus organizations, prizes and music by Chris Espinoza. NSU’s Earth Day theme was “Gather Here. Go Green,” and was organized by the Committee for Sustainability and the Northeastern Student Government Association (NSGA).

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts-smallholders-courtesy.jpg Rural smallholders host annual show

    More and more, many people are showing growing interest in learning the sources of their food, including meat. As such, interest in farm-to-table living is increasing.
    Saturday, the Rural Smallholders Association held its annual spring show at the Cherokee County Fairgrounds, promoting the farming of sheep and goats, along with giving the general public a sample of their products.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • pitts-hurley.jpg Wanted man nabbed during traffic stop

    Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies arrested a wanted man this week after a traffic stop near South Muskogee and Willis Road.
    Hurley D. Pitts, 40, was being sought by authorities on a motion to revoke a previous sentence.
    Sheriff’s Deputy Jarrick Snyder said he stopped a car after it ran off the road a couple of times. A woman was behind the wheel, and Pitts was sitting in the passenger seat.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • SR-Wikafile.jpg Communiversity Band performs Sunday

    Musicians from on and off the Northeastern State University campus have made their final preparations for an upcoming performance of the NSU Communiversity Band.
    The ensemble performs Sunday, April 27, at 7 p.m., in the NSU Center for the Performing Arts. The conductor is Dr. Norman Wika, associate professor of music and band program director. Guest conductor is student Kameron Parmain. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors.
    “Everything has come together very well this semester,” Wika said.
    “We have about 40 musicians, and everyone who started the rehearsals has stuck with it. This could be the best Community Band concert yet.”

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Council concerned over reports of land contamination

    Negotiations involving the purchase of nearly 20 homes on 7 acres of land near Basin Avenue hit a snag Monday night when concerns surfaced over potential contamination of the area.
    Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols had proposed the city purchase the homes and duplexes as a large step in a greenbelt project, which would establish a solid park and trail system from the downtown area to the site of the city’s old solid waste transfer station.
    Until Monday, details of the negotiations had been mostly discussed behind closed doors, though Nichols confirmed the list price for the property to be $480,000.

    April 23, 2014

  • Council tables cell tower permit apps

    Tahlequah city councilors on Monday opted to hold off on approval of two special-use permit applications that would help AT&T install a couple of 150-foot cell towers within the city.
    Branch Communications is asking for the permits as it attempts to construct two monopole cell towers – one on Commercial Road near Green Country Funeral Home, and another at the Tahlequah Public Schools bus barn on Pendleton Street. Other towers are being built outside of the city limits.
    Members of the city’s planning and zoning board gave their OK for both permits last month.

    April 23, 2014

Poll

How confident are you that the immunizations for infants and children are reasonably safe?

Not at all confident.
Somewhat confident.
Relatively confident.
Extremely confident.
undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Obama Tours Gyeongbok Palace Swimmer Michael Phelps Back in Competition Raw: Obama Lays Korean War Memorial Wreath Obama Leads Naturalization Ceremony in Seoul Calif. School Bus Crash Hurts Driver, 11 Kids Country Club for Exotic Cars Little Science Behind 'Pollen Vortex' Prediction US Proposes Pay-for-priority Internet Standards Wife Mourns Chicago Doctor Killed in Afghanistan FDA Proposes Regulations on E-cigarettes Kerry Warns Russia of Expensive New Sanctions Mideast Peace Talks Stall on Hamas Deal Cody Walker Remembers His Late Brother Paul Grieving South Korea Puts Up Yellow Ribbons Raw: Kerry Brings His Dog to Work Raw: Girls Survive Car Crash Into Their Bedroom Three U.S. Doctors Killed by Afghan Security Yankees' Pineda Suspended 10 Games for Pine Tar Colleagues Mourn Death of Doctors in Afghanistan Ukraine Launches Operation Against Insurgents
Stocks