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Norman, Oklahoma

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Texting Kills Another Driver

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A 21 year old man from Durant, Oklahoma, recently died in a single-car accident early Saturday morning on U.S. 70 east of Durant, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported. Jonathan Kinsey, 21, died at the scene. Three passengers in the vehicle also were injured. Troopers said Kinsey was text messaging at the time of the accident.

Driving While Texting Bans
Accidents can occur for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons are preventable. Others are not. Texting falls into the preventable category. That is why more and more states are making it illegal to send text messages while driving.

In fact, at least 30 states have banned text messaging for all drivers. In addition, at least eight states prohibit all hand-held cell phone use while driving. The federal government has also banned texting while driving by federal employees on duty and by all commercial truck and bus drivers.

According to the Kansas Transportation Department, texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision. To put this number in perspective, drunk drivers are "only" 7 times more likely to be involved in a collision.

Law in Oklahoma
Oklahoma passed a law in 2010 prohibiting drivers 18 and under who have a learner's permit or intermediate driver's license from using a cell phone to talk or text while driving, except in case of emergency. The bill was supposed to be more stringent, banning texting for all motorists. However, it ran into opposition and the less stringent version was passed. In addition, the governor, joining a statewide effort, signed an executive order prohibiting state employees from texting while driving on state business in state-owned or personal vehicles.

Conclusion
The bad news is that texting while driving is a serious problem. The proportion of drivers distracted at the time of fatal crashes increased from 8 percent in 2004 to 11 percent in 2008, when nearly 6,000 people died and more than a half million were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. And those statistics don’t even tell the whole story.

The problem may be even larger since driver distractions may be vastly underreported to law enforcement. There is good news though. As mentioned above, more and more states are implementing bans on texting while driving. Accidents caused by texting are entirely avoidable. Drivers need to understand that certain distractions are preventable. With the help of laws prohibiting such behavior, the roads should become substantially safer.

1 Comment

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  1. Holly says:
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    This was not a case of just texting and driving. Alcohol was involved. While drinking and texting while driving is dangerous, please ensure that all pertinent facts are reported.