Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers are exempt from the state employee ban on texting while they drive. That will soon change, and it won’t be popular with the state’s 800-plus troopers, OHP Chief Kerry Pettingill told the Norman Rotary Club this week.

“If I’m going to stand up and tell you don’t text and drive, I have to set the example,” Col. Pettingill said. “It’s not going to be popular.”

It won’t be popular with the motoring public, either. Telling someone they can’t do something that they have done for several years is tough but needed, Col. Pettingill said.

Troopers have enough distractions. Onboard computers, radar, radios and other equipment are calling for their attention. A car going at highway speeds will travel more than 100 yards in the time it takes a driver to glance down at a screen and type a character or two. Much can happen in that distance, Pettingill said.

A national ban may be coming as some states are hesitant to change their laws. The National Transportation Safety Board this month called for a nationwide ban on driving and texting.

Insurance carriers, major employers and most government workers are banned from the practice. It’s only a matter of time before a national ban is considered.

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