Debate Over Emergency Responder Exemption in Oklahoma Texting Ban

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Many states are preparing this year for a legislative battle over the issue of texting and driving.  One such state is Oklahoma, where it’s still legal to text at the wheel.  A proposal from a Representative from District One would change that.

That measure would ban texting and driving among most, but not all, drivers.  As the bill currently stands, emergency personnel would be exempt from the ban.  If an emergency requires immediate response, then doctors, firefighters, and other responders would be allowed to use their phones to text.

But it’s this very exception that has drawn the ire of a legal analyst with a local news station.  That individual believes that even emergency personnel should be subject to the rule should it become law.  He argues that the fastest drivers in the state are the very responders the law targets, and thus such persons should place all of their attention on the road at all times.  He also says the emergency distinction is useless because an officer won’t pull over another officer.

The sponsor of the bill says he would be okay with removing the exception, but he still argues that a ban on texting at the wheel must be on the books to preserve safety.  He doesn’t buy into the argument that a ban on texting would strain the resources of the local police.

Under the proposal, an offender would be forced to pay up to $500 if caught.