Oklahoma’s Casey Lewis Act Approved; Goes Into Effect November 1

Posted & filed under Auto Safety, Oklahoma Car Insurance.

Under a new Oklahoma law that goes into effect on November 1st, motorists who turn left in the face of oncoming traffic may also face traffic tickets, the Insurance Journal reports.

Drivers who make a left turn in the face of oncoming traffic may also face a traffic ticket, under a measure signed into law by Gov. Brad Henry.

The new measure, which was signed into law by Governor Brad Henry, removes language that allowed drivers to turn left after signaling and pausing in intersections, and which required oncoming drivers to yield to those who were turning. With that language excised from driving code, drivers will have to wait until all oncoming traffic has cleared before attempting a left turn.

Representative Wallace Collins (D-Norman), who authored the new language, explained, “The old law dated to the very early days of traffic laws, before cars had turn signals and when traffic moved more slowly. These days, most drivers wait for all oncoming traffic to pass before attempting to make a left turn, and this will simply require that all drivers employ that common sense practice.”

After an initial proposal in a different bill that never made it to a hearing in the state Senate, the new language was added as a “friendly amendment” to Representative Paul Roan’s bill HB-2322, which also covers motor vehicle laws.

According to Roan (D-Tishomingo), “This is an issue of public safety, and as a retired State Trooper, that’s a subject I have pretty strong feelings on. When a driver is making a left turn, they should have the responsibility for making sure that they can turn safely. This change will require them to do so and puts the liability on them if their turn results in an accident.”

The section of the law that actually effects change has been named the Casey Lewis Act, as a memorial to a Oklahoma citizen who was killed in 2007 when a car made a left turn into the path of his motorcycle. The driver of the car that killed Lewis stopped in the intersection and signaled before making the turn, in compliance with the law that was in effect at the time, and was therefore never cited. The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety has endorsed the Casey Lewis Act.

“This law comes too late to help Casey Lewis, but I believe it will help to prevent future accidents of the kind that took his life, so I am grateful for having the opportunity to play a role in making this change,” said Rep. Collins.

Other portions of HB2322 clarify the definitions of motorcycles and Class D motor vehicles. The bill received universal support in both legislative chambers, passing with a 95-0 vote in the House of Representatives and a 44-0 vote in the State Senate