The Oklahoma Highway Patrol plans to spend the last two weeks of January focusing on distracted driving violations. This special emphasis is in honor of Trooper Nicholas Dees who was killed by a distracted driver on January 31, 2015. Trooper Dees and Trooper Keith Burch had been dispatched to investigate a collision involving a tractor-trailer on Interstate 40 in Seminole County near the Pottawatomie County line. While the troopers were standing outside their patrol units investigating the collision, a distracted driver traveled into the collision scene and struck both troopers. Trooper Dees died instantly and Trooper Burch received serious injuries. The driver of the vehicle was convicted of manslaughter.
The “Trooper Nick Dees Law” went into effect November 1, 2015. This law, Title 47-11-901d, states in part, “It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle on any street or highway within this state while using a handheld electronic communication device to manually compose, send or read an electronic text message while the motor vehicle is in motion.” This includes surfing social media sites.
There were more than 8,600 crashes in Oklahoma that involved at least one distracted driver in 2019. Those crashes killed 41 people and seriously injured 240 more.
Troopers will spend the last two weeks of January focused on distracted driving violations and issuing tickets and warnings for those violations. A primary goal will be educating the public. The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and Oklahoma Department of Transportation will use their message boards to remind motorists of the dangers of distracted driving. There will be flyers in welcome centers and rest areas as well.