Measure to Encourage Safer Driving by Teens Clears Okla. Senate

March 13, 2006

Teenagers in Oklahoma with learner’s permits could soon face restrictions on cell phone use while driving. That’s the focus of legislation recently approved by the State Senate.

Sen. Clark Jolley, who authored Senate Bill 1542, said it was important for new drivers to focus on the road instead of their cell phones.

“We’ve seen recent studies that discuss the high incidence of accidents by young drivers and the high correlation to the use of cell phones and the distraction that causes,” said Jolley, R-Edmond. “The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that motorists that use cell phones are four times more likely to have a crash than those who don’t—when you take that into consideration, it seems obvious that new drivers don’t need to be taking additional risks by trying to drive while making calls on a cell phone.”

Jolley said while other states have adopted provisions addressing this safety concern, Oklahoma has yet to do so.

“We need to encourage our newest drivers who are just starting to learn to drive to actually keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel instead of text messaging their friends,” Jolley said.

The measure would still allow teens to use phones equipped with hands-free headsets.

SB 1542 now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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