Oro Valley drivers are adjusting to the new “hands-free” ordinance that went into effect this past January. Awareness enforcement started in January, with a period of “warning enforcement.”
On Sept. 1, the warning period ends and hands-free enforcement starts. Fines begin at $50 for the first offense, higher for repeat offenses.
If you have to use your cell phone while driving, the use of Bluetooth or the speaker on your phone is acceptable, just don’t pick up your phone. Exceptions include calling 911 or speaking to a hospital or physician.
The Oro Valley Police Department (OVPD) has been actively enforcing the new law during the warning period, handing out warning citations to drivers. Officers watch for signs of distracted driving such as weaving in traffic and driving below the speed limit.
Pima County has followed the path of Oro Valley. Starting on June 1st of this year, texting and driving have now become a primary offense. A primary offense means an officer can pull you over and cite you for using your phone behind the wheel.
OVPD hopes the ordinance will encourage drivers to put down the cell phones behind the wheel.
The State of Arizona still lacks a comprehensive, statewide texting and driving ban, one of only two states left in the country. The Arizona legislature recently passed a law, preventing teen drivers from using their phones while driving for the first six months after getting their license.
Of the more than 29,000 collisions reported in Arizona last year, close to 3,000 were caused by a distracted driver, according to the Department of Public Safety.
962 people lost their lives on Arizona roads in 2016, an increase of 67 more lives from 2015.
The Arizona Department of Transporation (ADOT) blames distracted driving, speeding and impaired driving for the increase in statewide fatalities.