State lawmaker files bill which would make it illegal to text while driving.

Legislation filed by state Rep. Curtis McDaniel would increase the safety of drivers on Oklahoma roads.

House Bill 1503, by McDaniel, would outlaw texting while their vehicle is in motion. The bill exempts texts to emergency response operators, medical providers, firefighters and law enforcement. The penalty would not exceed $500.

“It is well-documented that texting and driving is as dangerous or more dangerous than driving under the influence, yet only DUIs are currently illegal,” said McDaniel, D-Smithville. “No one wants to see a death caused by distracted driving.”

McDaniel said driving is a responsibility.

“Our laws basically state that driving is a privilege that you earn,” McDaniel said. “For that same reason, there are penalties when you do not take that responsibility seriously enough.”

McDaniel said there is bipartisan support for outlawing texting and driving. Former state Rep. Danny Morgan (D-Prague) ran legislation for several years, with increasing support for the legislation each year.

“We are always picking up new members at the Legislature, which means new opportunities to pass this important law,” said McDaniel. “Many drivers dislike new restrictions, but changes in technology have created a texting culture which has decreased road safety. We have to address it.”

Organizations that support increased driver safety include AAA Oklahoma, Farmers Insurance, Oklahoma Safety Council, Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, AT&T, and SAFE KIDS Oklahoma State.

The legislative session convenes Feb. 4.