California drivers will need to change their habits regarding driving and the use of a cell phone, starting January 1st, 2017. In an attempt to reduce the number of auto accidents, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law this week, banning the act of holding and operating a smartphone while driving, unless they have a hands-free device

California already has restrictions in place regarding the use of cellphones and driving. Assembly Bill 1785 updates the rules of the use of electronic devices while driving to keep up with current technology. The California Department of Transportation reported that there were 12 fatal collisions involving handheld cellphone use as a distraction factor in 2015.

California is Aggressive

In 2015, the California Highway Patrol issued over 13,000 citations for violating the law against writing, sending or reading text-based communications while driving. California is aggressive in their pursuit of texting and driving offenders. They are taking progressive steps towards the prevention of distracted driving.

In 2015, Arizona road fatalities increased by 15.2 percent over 2014. The Arizona Department of Transportation cites speeding and a lack of seat belts as a reason for the increase. They didn’t mention the rising use of cell phones behind the wheel as a contributing factor. It’s hard to imagine that the growth in traffic fatalities and the growing use of cellphones while driving are not related.

Arizona Has No Texting and Driving Law

Arizona has no laws against texting and driving or the use of cellphones while driving. Tucson and Pima County have enacted bans on texting and driving.

Despite a major increase in traffic fatalities statewide, the Arizona legislature has taken no steps regarding texting and driving.

In 2015, one person was killed every 9.79 hours in a vehicle-related crash in Arizona.

Time for the Arizona Legislature to Act?

Will the Arizona Legislature consider these facts and finally act to make our roads safer? California has set a new standard to make their streets safer with the passage of Bill 1785.

Let’s hope the Arizona legislation is paying attention. In the meantime, drive safely.