The State of Texas, like it’s neighbor, Arizona, was one of the last states to balk at passing a law against texting and driving.
Texas’ elected officials hesitated for years to join 46 other states in banning drivers from texting, reading emails or using the internet behind the wheel.
Last March, 13 people died in a horrific accident in Texas. Law enforcement says the 20-year-old driver of a pickup crossed the center line of a two-lane highway, hitting a church minibus.
Thirteen people coming back from a church retreat perished.
According to a motorist who to stopped to help, the driver said: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I was texting,’” the witness said, of Jack Dillon Young. “I said, ‘Son, do you know what you just did?’ He said, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry’.”
Texas moved quickly and in a little over two months, Texas had a law against texting and driving.
Will it take a similar, horrific tragedy to bring Arizona to its senses?
In a unanimous vote, SB 1261, a bill aimed at outlawing texting and driving cleared the Senate Transportation and Technology Committee on Tuesday. The fight now moves to the House.
Arizona’s Senate Bill 1261 is similar to Texas law. It would make it a petty offense for a driver to “read, write or send an electronic message” while driving. Hands-free devices still could be used as could GPS or navigation systems. Drivers could use a phone to dial 911 or read an electronic message “that the person reasonably believes concerns an emergency.”
The Senate transportation committee heard testimony on Tuesday from families who talked about the loved ones they lost.
People like Tom Hall, a retired Phoenix firefighter, whose motorcycle was hit from behind in April 2016 by a driver who was reaching for her cell phone while barreling down State Route 69 near Prescott Valley. Prosecutors told the family there was no law to allow them to bring charges against the driver.
It’s time for Arizona legislators to step up and pass a law, banning distracted driving. Tucson, Pima County, and Oro Valley have all passed laws. It’s shameful that our State has not enacted one as well, for the protection of all our citizens.
Nothing on the phone is worth the price of a losing a loved one.