Three lawmakers combined bills into one to focus on banning texting while a vehicle is in motion.

The safety of drivers on Oklahoma roads will increase under legislation approved by a House committee.

Three bills by state Reps. Curtis McDaniel, Jeannie McDaniel and Jerry Shoemake would all have addressed texting while driving, so they decided to focus their efforts on one bill.

House Bill 1503, by Curtis 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.

“Texting and driving is almost six times more dangerous than driving under the influence,” said Curtis McDaniel, D-Smithville. “We are seeing accidents and deaths caused by texting in our districts and we want to try to rein in this dangerous behavior.”

Jeannie McDaniel said failing to ban texting and driving is irresponsible.

“As more and more ‘texters’ join us on the road, more accidents are going to occur,” said Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa. “We have to get in front of this, like legislatures in other states are doing. We are already seeing accidents and deaths, but I guarantee that it will only get worse.”

The legislation has support of Democrats and Republicans and numerous organizations and state agencies, Shoemake said.

“We have pushed for a ban on texting and driving for several years and have always gotten bipartisan support,” said Shoemake. “Unfortunately, there are some lawmakers though that do not put the safety of their constituents first. I hope to convince them to support the bill this year.”

House Bill 1503 was approved by the House Public Safety Committee. If approved by the House Calendar Committee, it will be available for a vote on the House floor.