Oklahoma Bans Texting While Driving

Author: Ashley Shaw, XpertHR Legal Editor

May 26, 2015

Oklahoma has become the 46th state to ban texting while driving. An Oklahoma employer that uses commercial drivers or that requires employees to drive as part of their work assignments (e.g., traveling sales professionals) will need to update its driving policies to comply with this new law.

The law, which will go into effect on November 1, 2015, defines as a primary offense writing, sending or reading a text message while operating a car. Because texting while driving is a primary offense, a police officer may pull someone over for texting without having any other reason for the stop.

This ban makes an exception for texting during emergency situations. The law also allows for the use of hands-free devices so long as the driver's hands would not need to write, send or read a text while the vehicle is in motion.

Even though a workplace driving policy should include reference to state driving laws, it is a best practice to ban the use of texting while driving even absent a specific state prohibition. In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has found an employer's encouragement of texting and driving to be against OSHA's General Duty Standard. OSHA has used this standard to issue citations to employers that actively encourage workers to text while driving.