The Arizona legislature is taking a baby step towards banning texting and driving. Senate Bill 1080 would forbid teen drivers from using a cellphone or other “communications device” for the first six months that they have their license. If this bill passes the Legislature, it will take effect in 2018.
Legislators think that this first step may lead to a larger ban on adult drivers, in the future. This bill is a half measure that would impact a small segment of drivers.
Why start only with teen drivers? Transportation Chairman Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, said a total ban would not pass the Senate, due to logistical and philosophical objections. But, he predicted, putting a limit on “teen-driver” texting is the first step toward a broader prohibition.
Philosophical objections? Distracted driving is distracted driving, regardless of the age or experience of the driver.
According to Worsley-“Rather than dealing with the whole issue with all drivers, let’s get this done, with the most vulnerable drivers …. We’ll see how this goes, and maybe we can have a more expansive discussion next year,” he said.
The Arizona Legislature has debated the issue for years, with multiple bills failing, time after time. Senator Steve Farley D-Tucson first introduced a texting and driving ban ten years ago! Some lawmakers feel that by starting with teen drivers, they can “expand” the conversation on the topic in the future.
What happens after six months? Are teens then given the green light to text and drive, along with all their adult counterparts? The fact that Arizona is one of the very last states to pass any ban on texting and driving is astonishing. The majority of state lawmakers across the nation recognize the dangers of distracted driving and have taken action.
Traffic fatalities continue to rise on a national level, and one of the contributing factors is distracted driving due to mobile devices.
Municipalities like Oro Valley, Pima County, and Tucson have taken steps to ban texting and driving in their jurisdictions. The Arizona Legislature continues to resist enacting a statewide prohibition. Their “baby step” of outlawing texting while driving for newly licensed teen drivers is not a permanent solution to the problem, and it won’t come into effect until mid-2018.
As a personal injury firm, we see up close the devastation caused by car crashes. Life changing, permanent injuries and fatalities can result from car accidents. The fact that the Arizona Legislature refuses to pass a ban on the use of mobile devices by ALL drivers is beyond disappointing.
To the Arizona Legislature; what will it take for you to act on behalf of all Arizona drivers finally?