The full Senate voted unanimously on Thursday for legislation barring cell phone use in Oklahoma school zones. The measure was co-authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman and Senate Minority Leader Sean Burrage.
Senate Bill 1601 makes it illegal for anyone operating a motor vehicle to use a wireless communications device in a school zone. It would not apply to cars that are stopped, drivers using hands-free devices, or emergency calls as outlined in the bill.
“Many will point out we already have a distracted driving law, but too many people don’t know about it or don’t understand it. Children in school zones are particularly vulnerable, and if a driver fails to keep their eyes on the road, it can cause a tragedy,” said Bingman, R-Sapulpa. “The bottom line has got to be the safety of our children.”
Drivers who violate the provisions of this law shall face fines up to $250 per offense. However, if the violation results in an accident, the fine may be raised to not more than $500.
“The Pro Tem and I are both parents, and this is definitely one of those areas where we are in complete agreement,” said Burrage, D-Claremore. “School zones need to be areas where there is heightened safety and caution—that’s why the speed limits are lower. This bill will better protect them from drivers who might otherwise pay more attention to an incoming message than the children on their way to school.”
SB 1601 is based on similar laws in Arkansas and Texas. The measure now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.