Texting while driving is the top nationwide cause of teen road deaths in the United States. Most states ban all texting while driving. Oklahoma is among a small minority of states that have less restrictive bans.
Impact of texting
Researchers at Virginia Tech found that texting while driving virtually doubles the risk of crashes. This is because texting drivers take their eyes off the road for an average of 23 seconds, enough to cause a fatal accident.
Oklahoma’s texting law
Oklahoma has a very narrow anti-texting law. In Oklahoma, only holders of a learner’s permit and school bus drivers are prohibited from texting behind the wheel. In addition, Oklahoma penalties for texting while driving are fairly limited. In Oklahoma:
- A first texting conviction results in a $100 fine.
- A second conviction can lead to the loss of driving privileges for 60 days.
- A third conviction can lead to a 120-day license suspension.
If you are injured by a texting driver, you may be able to sue for damages based on negligence. This is because drivers owe a duty to third parties to drive safely, and distracted driving violates that duty.
Your burden of proof is lower if you are injured by a party who is banned from texting, such as a school bus driver. This is known as negligence per se. Under negligence per se, a person is presumed to be liable if they violate a law and cause the harm that the law intended to prevent. Therefore, if you are injured by either a minor or a school bus driver who was texting at or near the time of the accident, that person is presumed to be negligent.
If you can establish that the texting driver caused your harm, you may be able to sue for economic harm, noneconomic damages and, in certain cases, even punitive damages.
Drivers owe a duty to drive safely, and texting violates that duty. If you are injured by a distracted driver, contact an experienced Oklahoma City personal injury lawyer. The attorneys at Cunningham and Mears stand ready to advise you of your rights and to fight for the full damages you deserve.