Distracted Driving Laws in Oklahoma
Distracted driving in Oklahoma has had a tremendous impact on drivers, passengers and pedestrians. Unfortunately, the trend continues as texting and driving becomes a common activity in the state. To avoid becoming part of these trends, drivers must be vigilant and familiarize themselves with the state’s driving laws to remain safe and legal on the roads.
Programs like Text B4 U Go increase driver awareness of the dangers of texting while driving, but it is ultimately the drivers’ responsibility to avoid distractions that may lead to accidents or injuries. The following sections give drivers distracted driving facts that may clarify some myths about distracted drivers and explain related laws that drivers must follow in Oklahoma. Additionally, drivers will discover lesser-known driving distractions that they should be aware of and how to avoid them.
What is distracted driving in Oklahoma?
In OK distracted driving is the act of being distracted in any way while driving. Distracted driving laws address only one type of distraction that can occur behind the wheel, but various distractions may affect drivers’ ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. For example, eating and driving, talking and listening to music or podcasts can be dangerous vehicle distractions that put drivers and passengers at risk.
According to the OK Highway Safety Office (OHSO), even looking away from the road for five seconds is a life-threatening act. In that span of time, a vehicle moving at 55 mph can travel the entire length of a football field. Facts about distracted driving reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that about nine U.S. citizens are killed each day and more than 1,000 are injured due to distracted drivers. Drive Aware OK is an organization dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries that are caused by inattentive driving through public education and awareness.
Distracted Driving Laws in Oklahoma for Handheld Devices
OK distracted driving laws require drivers to devote their full attention to the act of driving. However, only some driving distractions are prohibited, while others are merely discouraged. Interacting with a handheld device by texting, typing or sending electronic messages is illegal. Regardless, if law enforcement officers have reason to believe that drivers are engaged in a distraction of any kind, she or he may take legal action, especially if the incidents have caused distracted driving accidents or near-crash events.
Distracted driving facts that may impact current and future drivers in Oklahoma are provided below:
- State government officials are in the process of writing and proposing a new distracted driving law that may further restrict drivers’ ability to use their phones while driving.
- Distracted driving is considered a primary offense in the state.
- The use of handheld devices is permitted for voice communication.
Texting and Driving Laws in Oklahoma
Texting and driving laws in OK are valid for all drivers, regardless of their ages or license classifications. These distracted driving laws ban cellphone use for written communication while driving. Oklahoma has become one of the last states to ban texting while driving in 2015, so the laws are new and may not be well known among all drivers. The following exceptions to the texting ban exist:
- Drivers are using hands-free devices.
- Drivers are contacting emergency services
- Drivers are texting or using handheld devices in accordance with their duties
Oklahoma Laws on Distracted Driving for Novice Drivers
Distracted driving resulting from cell phone use is illegal for all novice drivers in OK, defined as drivers who possess a learners permit or intermediate license. Although other drivers are only prevented from texting and driving, novice drivers may not text, call or use their handheld devices in any other fashion while their vehicle is in motion. Therefore, novice drivers are restricted to using only hands-free or voice-activated devices while driving.
Oklahoma Distracted Driving Regulations for CDL Holders
Commercial drivers must abide by the same distracted driving laws in OK that other drivers do. However, by law, distracted driving incorporates texting, calling and reading on handheld and hands-free devices for those with commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs). For example, bus drivers are unable to do the following while operating commercial vehicles:
- Dial a phone number
- Take or make calls
- Compose, send and read messages
Due to the stricter laws against distracted driving that apply to CDL holders, commercial drivers may experience additional penalties.
Distracted Driving Penalties in Oklahoma
A distracted driving ticket will be issued to drivers who are not paying attention on the road. To stop distracted driving, Oklahoma has assigned fines to each ticket that reflect the driving offense the driver has committed. Distracted driving penalties, then, include fines up to $100.
Novice and commercial drivers may face extra penalties besides fines. These may include license suspensions or revocations. Still, all drivers may be fined if they are found guilty of inattentive driving.
Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving in Oklahoma
Driver education is the best way to reduce inattentive driving in OK. While distracted driving facts uncover the effects that inattentiveness can cause on drivers and passengers, some drivers continue to succumb to distractions. To prevent distractions, drivers can commit to doing the following:
- Turn off devices. Texts and calls can wait until you have completely stopped the vehicle and parked. Turning off your devices while you drive ensures that you will not be distracted by them.
- Exercise caution. If you are unsure about your ability to drive safely, pull off the road.
- Limit conversation. Even talking to other passengers can be dangerous, so be sure request a silent vehicle when necessary.
- Focus on the road. Try not to stare at road signs, scenery or commotion for long and keep your eyes focused on the task of driving.