Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Governor in Oklahoma Bars State Employees from Text Messaging While Driving

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Governor in Oklahoma Bars State Employees from Text Messaging While Driving

Article excerpt

Taking a lead from the Obama administration, Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry signed an executive order Thursday barring all state employees from text messaging while driving state vehicles.

The governor said he took the action because he wanted the directive to serve as a model for all Oklahoma motorists.

"Technological advances like text messaging have revolutionized our lives in many ways, but they have also created serious distractions that can have disastrous results on our roadways," Henry said. "There really is no way someone can be an alert and responsible driver while he or she is also reading or typing out keys on a small keyboard. This is a matter of common sense."

Henry's action follows an order signed by the Obama administration last year.

Last October, President Barack Obama issued an executive order banning federal workers from texting while driving. The order went into effect Jan. 5.

Obama's order means that more than 3 million federal workers are forbidden to text while driving government vehicles, using government-issued phones and PDAs, or while on official business driving their own vehicles.

The order also encourages federal contractors to prohibit their employees from texting while driving company vehicles.

In Oklahoma, Henry's order prohibits state employees from text messaging when driving government vehicles, driving private vehicles on government business or when using electronic equipment supplied by the state while driving. The directive defines "texting" or "text messaging" as reading from or entering data into any handheld or other electronic device.

Records from the Department of Public Safety show that distraction by use of electronic devices is a particular problem for state drivers. In 2007 and 2008, drivers in the 16-to-25 age group were reported to be in crashes involving a distraction by an electronic device more than drivers in three age groups - 26-35, 36- 45 and 46-55 - combined.

Additionally, the number of drivers who were distracted by electronic devices and involved in crashes rose from 1,736 in 2007 to 1,811 in 2008, state records show. …

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