After November 1, when a new law goes into effect, Oklahoma drivers turning left will be required to wait until all oncoming traffic has passed before executing the maneuver. Under the prior law, when a driver in an intersection signaled a left turn, oncoming drivers were required to yield. This was not, however, commonly obeyed in practice.
“The old law dated to the very early days of traffic laws, before cars had turn signals and when traffic moved more slowly,” said State Rep. Wallace Collins, D-Norman, the author of the revised traffic language, incorporated into HB2322 authored by State Rep. Paul Roan, D-Tishomingo. “These days, most drivers wait for all oncoming traffic to pass before attempting to make a left turn,” said Collins, “and this will simply require that all drivers employ that common sense practice.”
Roan, the bill’s author said, “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 changed law, the Casey Lewis Act, is named for a man who died in central Oklahoma in 2007 after a car turned left in the path of his motorcycle. Lewis was killed, and the driver of the car was not cited because he had properly stopped in the intersection and signaled. The Department of Public Safety 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,” said Rep. Collins, “so I am grateful for having the opportunity to play a role in making this change.”