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Proposed bill would make it illegal to hold phone while driving in state of Oklahoma

Posted at 8:35 PM, Jan 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-03 05:16:07-05

Do you get calls when you're driving? A proposed bill could mean you can't pick up your phone and answer it.

It may seem like just a phone call but it could be so much more than that.

"When I saw those two patrol cars and two troopers standing at the door, I knew immediately that he was gone," Nicholas Dee's mom said.

Shelley Russell lost her son Nicholas in a crash January 31st, 2015. He was an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper.

"The man that killed Nicholas had left Arkansas and had been driving for about two and a half hours and on the 189th text, he killed my son," Russell said.

Now, Russell is trying to make sure no mother feels her pain.

"I want Oklahoma and the legislature to be a forerunner in this cause and this epidemic that we as citizens are doing, basically killing each other because we are using phones," she said.

State Senator Ron Sharp proposed the bill to make it illegal to have your phone in your hand while driving. It's a follow up to the original bill passed in 2015 after the trooper's death, which made it illegal to text and drive.

"House Bill 1965 has been very successful in reducing the number of fatalities," Republican Senator Ron Sharp said. "The Department of Public Safety says they've been reduced as much as 30%."

California just passed a similar law. They require drivers to mount electronic devices to their dashboard.

"You can use it at a stop sign if there is no one behind you or a red light until your car starts moving again and then you need to put your cell phone down, Sharp said.

Sharp says it's an uphill battle because his constituents believe it's infringing on their constitutional rights. But he and Shelly Russell are determined to make a change, for Nicholas.

"I think he's saying, 'Mom, go for this! fight for this!'" Russell said.

The legislative session begins February 6th. The proposed bill will be assigned to a committee which will then decide if it's even heard.

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