#StayFocusedOK: Stop Texting While Driving

Heads up! Texting while driving is now illegal in the state of Oklahoma and offenders can receive a $100 fine. Drivers with permits or graduated licenses risk suspension or loss of their license.

House Bill 1965, also called the “Trooper Nicholas Dees and Keith Burch Act of 2015,” in honor of the troopers who were involved in a fatal accident. Trooper Dees was hit and killed by a distracted driver while working an accident along I-40, east of Shawnee. Another trooper, Keith Burch, was seriously injured.

Oklahoma is the 46th state to ban texting while driving. This law makes texting while driving a primary offense, meaning that a law enforcement officer can stop a car and issue a citation for violating the law.

The law prohibits any person operating a motor vehicle from using a hand-held electronic communication device to manually compose, send or read an electronic text message while the motor vehicle is in motion. The new law does allow you to use your maps or GPS on your phone, but the address has to be entered before you start driving.

The health and wellness of all Oklahomans is important to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma and we strive to make Oklahoma a better place to live. We support this new law to help keep Oklahomans safer on the road. According to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety and Highway Safety Office, there were more than 1,700 motor vehicle accidents in Oklahoma caused by distracted drivers using electronic devices in 2013, and 14 of those accidents were fatal.

“I fully support this new law to help keep Oklahomans safer while on the road. I urge you to be safe and stay focused on driving when you’re behind the wheel by keeping your eyes on the road, not on your phone,” said Ted Haynes, President of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol are spreading the news about this law with their U Drive - U Text - U Pay campaign and showing the dangers of texting while driving with TV ads, radio spots and social media.

It’s the responsibility of everyone on the road to be safe and stay focused while driving. Turning off your cell phone or putting it on silent while driving can help you concentrate on your surroundings.

Throughout the month of November, BCBSOK will be tweeting facts about the dangers of texting while driving. Follow the hashtag #StayFocusedOK to stay in the know.

What are your rules to keep you safe in the car?