As the winter weather comes in, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol is warning drivers of how dangerous distracted driving is.
The OHP has spent this month pulling people over for texting and driving or driving distracted. Troopers do this distracted driving campaign each year to honor a trooper who was killed by a distracted driver back in 2015. Trooper Nick Dees was killed eight years ago by someone checking their social media while driving.
OHP says even though many drivers saw Dees working a crash and moved over, the one that didn’t cost Dees his life.
"Looking back at the dash cam, there were so many vehicles that did the right thing,” said Trooper Eric Foster with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. “They slowed down, they moved over, for all the first responders that were there. But there was one that went around marked units and struck two troopers walking on the roadway, trying to help people."
Foster says being alert is even more important on days when it’s raining or snowing.
"When it is wet, or when it is slick, you need actually more time to make a decision to slow down, than you would even in pristine roadways," said Foster.
He says texting and driving or being distracted by food, make-up, the radio, or anything else, can be as dangerous as driving drunk.
"I can't tell you how many times I've stopped a vehicle that couldn't maintain its lane, was cutting other cars off, things like that, that I immediately thought, this is very indicative of an intoxicated driver,” said Foster. “And to pull them over expecting to smell the alcohol when I walked up there, and there was no intoxication at all."
Foster says it doesn’t matter if it’s a police car, any time you see someone on the side of the road, you need to move over.
"It is important to give that room because, just think about this, anytime you see red and blue lights, or amber lights, from first responders on the roadway, that normally means there is someone walking on the roadway," Foster said.
His goal is to let them know their choices could hurt others and themselves.
"Really, that's our ultimate goal, is just education,” Foster said. “Make sure you're safe, it's not necessarily to pull you over to write you a ticket or be the mean guy, that's not what we're trying to do. We're trying to make sure you're safe."
The OHP Distracted Driving Campaign ends on January 31st.