City of Tulsa employees are prohibited from texting while driving on the job. Now Mayor Dewey Bartlett is encouraging all Tulsa drivers not to text behind the wheel.
Bartlett proclaimed Sept. 19 "Drive 4 Pledges Day," showing Tulsa's support for the nationwide It Can Wait movement, which started in 2009.
Mobile carriers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon head the campaign. AT&T Oklahoma President Bryan Gonterman was on hand for the announcement and praised the city's action.
"It's so important for us to reach out and partner with other companies, with other industries, with cities, counties, school districts, to really get this message across to every citizen of the United States, that this is dangerous," he said.
Booker T. Washington junior John Seely is part of a group trying to convince his peers to pledge not to text while driving. He was convinced of the danger after just one text because he nearly drifted into another lane.
"That's freaky, to not know what you're doing, not know where you're going because you're texting," he said.
Tulsa is among more than 200 cities that made proclamations Thursday supporting the It Can Wait campaign.
Legislation banning texting while driving in Oklahoma has failed, but that doesn't mean drivers will never be punished for it. Tulsa Police have stepped up crash investigations to crack down on distracted driving — another reason not to text and drive.
"We're finding that with some of our crashes, we're actually going back and getting a search warrant ... to look at their phone records, to see if they were texting at that time, were on the phone at that time," said Traffic Safety Coordinator Craig Murray. "That in itself, as an inattentive driving portion, is a criminal offense."
Tulsans can take their own pledges by texting "ICWTulsa" to 464329.