Gina Harris is fighting for a ban against texting and driving in Oklahoma. She knows far too well the devastating consequences of using a cell phone while behind the wheel. Harris’s 19-year-old daughter was talking on the phone when she lost control of her vehicle and was hit by another car.
“She chose to pick up her phone, said Harris. “Within a two-second time span she lost control of her vehicle and hopped all the way across four lanes of traffic and was hit in her driver's door. She did not survive the impact."
According to Kerry Pettingill, Chief of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, currently Oklahoma drivers can be cited for inattentive driving, but cannot be stopped or ticketed simply for a using a cell phone, even if an officer witnesses them texting while driving. An Oklahoma bill is now pending House approval which would make it illegal for any driver to "compose, send, or read a text" while driving. The proposed bill calls for a fine up to $500 for violations.
Senator Ralph Shortey (R) -Oklahoma City, said he questions whether a ban on texting actually would make the roads any safer, suggesting drivers simply would try to hide the fact that they were using their phones. "I don't think this is going to do anything," said Shortey. "Saying something is illegal is not going to change the behavior of an individual."
Although I agree that such laws may not be enough to stop this negligent behavior and prevent accidents, I do believe it is a step in the right direction. There are laws requiring seatbelts and little or no dispute that lives have been saved because of them. We have laws against drunk driving and no one thinks twice about punishing drunk drivers. If studies have proven that distracted driving from cell phone use hampers reaction time as much as a drunk driver, they why not laws against cell phone use? Tim and time again, there is proof that distracted driving is unsafe, irresponsible, and in a split second its consequences can be devastating. It is time to stop ignoring the facts and take decisive, corrective, action, including stricter laws preventing cell phone use (of any kind), while driving. At the very least, the law will make the conduct illegal and punishable; it will create more public awareness of the danger. That is a net positive, isn’t it?
Laws are the beginning of a call to action to stop distractions while driving. We need to start somewhere. Lawsuit Financial hopes this case sends a strong message to Oklahoma and all states. Don’t give it a second thought; passing no cell phone and driving laws is in the best interest of safety on our roads.
Mark Bello has thirty-six years experience as a trial lawyer and fourteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice, Public Citizen, the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.