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3 New Oklahoma Laws that Promote Road Safety

Posted on: June 27, 2017

road safety

Oklahoma is serious about road safety and keeping drivers and passengers safe. Three recent laws passed by the state legislature specifically address problem areas of road safety even amidst some controversy. Regardless of whether or not you supported or argued against the bills, or were even aware of their passage, they are now Oklahoma law. Therefore, you need to be aware of their provisions and restrictions.

Texting While Driving Ban Promotes Road Safety

Oklahoma Statutes Section 11-901d of Title 47, The Trooper Nicholas Dees and Trooper Keith Burch Act of 2015 took effect November 1 of that same year. The bill is named for two Oklahoma State Troopers who were struck while investigating an accident along Interstate 40 in Seminole County on January 31, 2015. Trooper Dees died at the scene and Trooper Burch was seriously injured. The driver of the offending vehicle was updating social media on his cell phone when he struck the two officers.

Oklahoma is the 46th state to ban texting while driving. Many thought the law was redundant because the state already has a distracted driving law. However, law enforcement officials and legislators agreed that the severity of the problem with texting while driving demanded a specific law to increase road safety. Under the new law, manually composing, reading or sending a text is prohibited, as well as instant messaging, checking or reading emails and looking at photos or videos. Hands-free applications are permitted. Violators can expect a $100 fine.

Upgraded Child Restraint Law

House bill 1847 proposed amendments to Oklahoma Statutes 2011, Section 11-1112 of Title 47, and went into effect on November 1, 2015. These amendments stipulate specific requirements concerning child restraints in motor vehicles in the interest of improving road safety. Oklahoma child restraint laws were vague, although they did require parents to buckle up their children.

Oklahoma Senator Randy Bass, D-Lawton, the Senate author of the bill, has been quoted saying, “We know that in Oklahoma alone, the number of children who died or were seriously injured in car accidents could have been cut in half with the proper use of child restraint systems.” The upgraded measures in the statute have been heartily endorsed by such organizations as the Oklahoma Safe Kids Coalition, the American Automobile Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

The new provisions require children to be secured in a rear-facing car seat until age two and in a 5-point harness car seat until age four. After turning four, the child may use a belt-positioning booster seat. This configuration must be used until the child turns eight or becomes 4 feet 9 inches tall. After age eight or reaching the aforementioned height, a regular seat belt is all that is required.

Slow Down to Get Around Garbage Trucks

House Bill 2449, amending Oklahoma Statues 2011, Section 12- 227 of Title 47, increases road safety by requiring vehicles to slow down and pass with caution emergency vehicles and other service vehicles with flashing lights, including garbage collection trucks. The so-called Slow Down to Get Around bill went into effect November 1, 2016. Although no speed limit is stipulated, motorists deemed by law enforcement to be going too fast when passing garbage collection trucks could face a fine of $2000 and six months in jail.

The law increases road safety by requiring motorists to move over a full lane and decrease speed when passing emergency vehicles and garbage trucks when their lights are flashing, denoting workers doing their jobs along the roadway. Oklahoma became the 12th state to enact such legislation, following Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia and most recently, New York.

Road safety is a priority for all Oklahoma citizens. The attorneys of Edwards and Patterson Law encourage all motorists to drive safely. If you have been involved in an accident in Tulsa, McAlester or eastern Oklahoma because another driver violated one of these laws, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact us by phone at 877-403-8417 or online to schedule your free consultation. You pay no attorney fees unless you are awarded financial remunerations.

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