Mom baffled that Legislature hasn’t passed more restrictive laws
Gina Harris thinks about her daughter on a daily basis. Her heart breaks every time.
Three years ago, in a span of a few seconds, her daughter Brittanie forgot her mother’s many warnings and picked up her cell phone to talk to a friend.
She lost control of her Ford Escape, spun around then crossed the center median sideways, hitting the front end of a big Chevy pickup t-bone style. She never stood a chance, dying instantly. No one in the truck was injured.
Harris, of Yukon, will never forget that night when four somber police officers rang her doorbell to deliver the devastating news.
“I was hysterical, walking in circles, crying,” she recalled.
But Harris’ gut-wrenching grief doesn’t stop her personal crusade to tell everyone she encounters not to use cell phones while driving. She had told her daughter dozens of times of the dangers.
If we are honest, most of us will admit we have talked on the cell phone while driving, even if only a few times.
But Brittanie paid the ultimate price.
She was a gorgeous, 19-year-old girl with golden hair and a 100-watt smile. She and been a honeybee (cheerleader) for the Oklahoma City NBA Hornets basketball team. She was smart, compassionate and lit up any room she entered. She wanted to work with abused children.
Harris is distressed that the legislature hasn’t acted to ban cell phones. She believes the claim that it is unenforceable is a bogus argument. A hefty fine would act as a deterrent, she believes.
“I’m exceptionally upset,” she said. “Seat belts keep going through my head and the fit everyone threw when that came up. No one wanted to do it. However, after a few hundred tickets, it’s no big deal. This will be the same thing, People just need to get over it.
“If our local government can’t do what we need them to do, then we need to not vote for them, and get somebody in there that will listen to us. Then, we need to get actively involved.
Harris said Oklahoma lawmakers tend to be reactive rather than proactive, a practice that usually requires a large-scale tragedy before they act. She plans to call legislators this week in a last-ditch effort to pass the bill stuck in conference committee.
Harris noted, “They tell us how fast we can drive our cars. They tell us we must wear a seat belt when we drive. They tell us we can’t drink while we drive. What difference does it make to take an electronic device out of your vehicle?
“This next year, if we don’t get something finalized this session, I’ve already warned my family that we’re going to get more aggressive, more under foot and communicate more. Something’s got to change.
Not long ago, Harris went to the House chamber to watch lawmakers in action. She sat in the gallery above while several legislators made their case. But many of the lawmakers probably didn’t hear much of it.
Most were talking on their cell phones.