Monday, March 07, 2011

Distracted driving victim’s father: ‘Pass public safety bills’


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – A father whose son was killed by a texting driver joined Assistant Minority Leader Steve Farley on Monday and urged lawmakers to support bills addressing distracted driving.

Dr. Robert Okerblom retold the horrific story about his son Eric, who was killed in 2009 while bicycling by a teenage driver distracted while using her cell phone.

“I function well and I laugh and I enjoy things but I still have not fully learned to accept that this is the way life is," Okerblom told to a San Diego newspaper. "That a good, wonderful person could be killed from – not malice, just their inattention – and they’re gone.”

Okerblom will only be in the Phoenix area briefly. He left San Diego on Sunday morning as part of a cycling trip across the country to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.

Farley discussed two bills that address distracted driving.
· HB 2426, which Farley introduced, prohibits people under 18 from driving a vehicle on a highway while using any wireless communication devices.
· SB 1538, which Farley is also supporting, prohibits texting while driving.

Farley citied a 2010 study by the American Journal of Public Health that texting while driving likely caused more than 16,000 road fatalities between 2002 and 2007.

"In 2007, I was the first legislator in the United States to introduce legislation banning driving while texting and I continue to fight for a law to protect Arizonans today," Farley said. "If Arizona passes common-sense laws like HB 2426 and SB 1538, we might be able to prevent tragic deaths like that of Dr. Okerblom's son."
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