Friday, January 22, 2010

Henry Bans Texting for State Employees

Governor Brad Henry signed an executive order yesterday that bans state employees from texting while driving state vehicles.
"In an effort to ensure safer roads and highways, Gov. Brad Henry today signed an executive order barring state employees from 'text messaging' while driving state vehicles. The Governor said he wants the directive to serve as a model for all Oklahoma motorists."

"'Technological advances like text messaging have revolutionized our lives in many ways, but they have also created serious distractions that can have disastrous results on our roadways,'” he said."

"'There really is no way someone can be an alert and responsible driver while he or she is also reading or typing out keys on a small keyboard. This is a matter of common sense.'"

"Under the order signed today, Oklahoma state employees are prohibited from text messaging when driving government vehicles, driving private vehicles on government business or when using electronic equipment supplied by the state while driving. The directive defines 'texting' or 'text messaging' as reading from or entering data into any handheld or other electronic device."

"In order to give state agency directors time to inform employees of the new policy, the executive order will not become effective until February 1."

"Studies conclude that motorists' use of handheld electronic devices while driving can be significant distractions. According to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, these distractions contribute to hundreds of injury accidents each year and have also been cited in a number of fatal crashes."

"Nineteen states and the District of Columbia currently ban text messaging while driving.

Henry, a Democrat, signed this order at a time when momentum seems to be building in the legislature for a similar, all-encompassing measure. State Reps. Sue Tibbs (R-Tulsa) and Danny Morgan (D-Prague) have authored a bill that would ban cell phone usage while driving (unless using a hands-free device).

I happen to disagree with this. As with the recent left-lane law, law enforcement should already be able to ticket drivers for inattentive driving (among other possibilities). Rather than passing new laws, that law enforcement officials must read before they can carry out, let's focus on enforcing the laws already on the books.


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