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Friday, September 7, 2018
OKLAHOMA CITY – Despite Oklahoma’s law to prevent texting and driving, new data shows young drivers are the most likely to be distracted leading up to a crash. That’s why the Oklahoma Insurance Department, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office are joining forces to ask teens to take the pledge to not drive distracted.
“What people need to understand is how dangerous it is to take your eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel,” said Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak. “We can do a better job of spreading that message with the help of ODOT, OTA and OHSO. We’re thankful for their dedication to make Oklahoma’s roads a safer place.”
The #JustDriveOK campaign will get a boost from the four state agencies during the week of Sept. 10. Some of the activities include:
The OHSO recently compiled data on distracted driving in 2017. Drivers aged 16-25 were the most likely to be distracted leading up to collision. Last year, a total of 3,291 drivers aged 16-25 were distracted when involved in a crash. The next highest age group represented was 26-35 year-olds, with 2,028 drivers distracted leading up to a crash.
“Distracted driving crashes are a growing concern in Oklahoma,” said Paul Harris, director of the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office. “One text, one glance down, can be the difference between life and death. Distracted driving isn’t limited to cell phones, but for teens whose social world revolves around technology, a cell phone can be a serious distraction in the car. The data shows us that younger drivers are more at risk of being distracted in a crash, but everyone should pay attention while driving. We are proud to join other agencies and groups in Oklahoma to raise awareness for distracted driving and make our roads safer for everyone.”
Severity of injuries and the possibility of fatalities go up when distracted driving occurs within one of Oklahoma’s highway work zones. In the past five years, 75 people, including four ODOT workers, were killed in work zone crashes.
“With many new highway construction projects starting this fall, particularly in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas, it’s more important than ever to remind young drivers of the importance to pay attention while behind the wheel, especially in work zones,” said Mike Patterson, Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation and ODOT executive director. “We believe that as more new drivers take the pledge to not text and drive, it will empower them to practice behaviors that will keep everyone safe on Oklahoma highways.”
“The #JustDriveOK campaign and pledge is focused on reinforcing appropriate driving behaviors for our youngest and most inexperienced drivers,” said Tim Gatz, OTA Executive Director. “Still, it is increasingly important for us, as young adults, parents and grandparents, to set safe driving examples for our young people by putting away distractions ourselves, practicing safe driving habits and always buckling our seatbelts.”
Students can take the pledge at justdrive.oid.ok.gov. Educators and parents can also find resources on the site like a teen driver contract and a list of apps to fight distracted driving.
For more information, contact: