What Are The Cell Phone Laws for Drivers in Oklahoma?
There’s been much discussion recently about Oklahoma’s cell phone laws for drivers. In the February 2023 legislative session, Representative Ross Ford of Broken Arrow authored a proposed bill that would help deter distracted driving in Oklahoma due to cell phone use. The bill, House Bill 2228, outlines a ban on operating a motor vehicle while the driver is holding or using a handheld cellular telephone or other electronic device when the car is in motion.
Despite the high risk of car accidents and injury, many drivers use their phones for watching videos, social media, searching on the internet, and using other apps while driving. Current Oklahoma driving laws don’t directly address these types of cell phone use, and this proposed bill would help address it. The bill passed out of the house public safety committee and is now eligible to be considered by the full house. So while HB 2228 is not guaranteed to become law in Oklahoma, it is vital for drivers to understand what the distracted driving laws currently are and how cell phone use is limited by law while operating a vehicle. Our team of experienced auto accident attorneys has explained the ins and outs of Oklahoma driving cell phone laws below.
If you are in a situation where you know you need help from a car accident attorney because a distracted driver injured you, contact our team today. We would be happy to provide a free consultation.
Oklahoma Cell Phone Laws While Driving
Texting While Driving
In 2015, Oklahoma became the 46th state to ban texting while driving. The ban allows officers to pull you over and issue a ticket if you are texting while operating a vehicle.
Oklahoma law states that texting while driving is punishable by a $100 fine. This law includes reading or sending texts, text-based emails, videos and photos, and instant messages while driving a vehicle. If you are using voice-to-text or the voice-operated system built into your car, these types of texting are exempt from the ban.
Texting and driving is one of the most common distractions for distracted drivers. It’s almost natural for drivers to pick up their phones and read a quick text while on the road. But if you drive 55 miles per hour and take your eyes off the road for just five seconds, your car will have moved the distance of a football field. That’s a lot of roadway covered without your eyes on the road.
Talking While Driving
Only certain drivers are required to avoid talking on the phone while driving. In Oklahoma, it is not illegal for most licensed drivers driving a personal vehicle to use a handheld mobile phone or device to chat while moving. However, teen drivers and commercial drivers are not allowed to talk and drive at the same time.
Most experts and law enforcement officers agree that if you take a call while driving, it is better to use hands-free technology, like a speakerphone or a headset, to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes focused on the road. If you are an adult driving a personal vehicle, you can talk while driving – just do it safely and do not let it distract you from the task at hand.
Oklahoma Commercial Driver Cell Phone Laws
Oklahoma cell phone driving laws are pretty lenient compared to other states. However, one group of drivers is required to abstain from cell phone use entirely while driving. Commercial and public transportation drivers are banned from texting and cell phone use while operating a vehicle. The risks associated with driving buses, trucks, and other large commercial and transportation vehicles require that drivers give their full attention to driving.
Exceptions to this rule are few, but they allow commercial drivers to use mobile phones in the following circumstances:
- Drivers using their phones to call or communicate with emergency services like fire, police, or ambulance services
- Drivers inputting or reading GPS information
- Using voice commands to initiate or accept a call or retrieve navigational information
Distracted Driving in Oklahoma
Cell phone use while driving is one of the most common causes of distracted driving. Between 2017 and 2021 in Oklahoma, 250 deaths and nearly 8,000 injuries occurred due to distracted driving. Distracted driving is being distracted by anything that diverts your attention from driving your vehicle.
Distracted driving isn’t just a problem among texting teen drivers or older adults talking while driving. Distracted driving, primarily when related to cell phone use, is common across all age groups and populations. It is also 100% preventable.
Distracted driving increases your risk of auto accidents, injuries, speeding, and other traffic violations.
Reckless Driving and Negligent Homicide
Often, distracted driving can quickly evolve into reckless driving which is punishable by law. If your distracted driving becomes reckless – driving carelessly and disregarding the safety of others – it is an offense punishable by a fine and jail sentence. For example, if you are texting and driving and run a red light, swerve into oncoming traffic, or speed in a school zone, you could be cited for reckless driving.
Negligent homicide is another possible result of distracted driving. Negligent homicide resulting from the use of a motor vehicle is the term used for being reckless or negligent and unintentionally causing the death of a person while driving a car. Negligent homicide is a serious offense, and if convicted, a driver could face a fine, jail time, and a revoked license.
Additional Consequences For Cell Phone Use While Driving
In addition to criminal charges and fines, it’s common for the victims of distracted driving accidents to pursue justice and compensation from the driver that caused the accident for their injuries through civil lawsuits. If you are a distracted driver who causes an accident, you may be held liable for the injuries and damages, even if you are not charged with breaking the law.
Other additional consequences of distracted driving include increased insurance premiums and suspended licenses.
Find Help After A Distracted Driving Accident
If you or a family member has been the victim of a distracted driving accident, an experienced car accident attorney can help you understand your rights in Oklahoma following an accident. Every day, our lawyers help families pursue justice and find peace after serious car accidents. We would be honored to help you. Contact our team today for a free consultation.
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