Texting and Driving in Arizona – An Unresolved Problem
Texting and driving in Arizona is a huge problem — and in our society as a whole. With the rise of the smartphone, this dangerous activity is much more prevalent than anyone would care to believe. In a 2011 study conducted by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found extremely frightening statistics:
- 31% of drivers in the U.S. ages 18-64 reported that they had read or sent text messages while driving in the past 30 days.
Also in 2011, according to TextingAndDrivingSafety.com:
- 23% of auto collisions involved a cell phone.
If you factor in the rise of cell phone usage since 2011, you can figure that these frightening texting while driving statistics have risen. In fact, according to a January 2014 study done by the Pew Research center, 90% of all Americans own a cell phone.
Also according to TextingandDrivingSafety.com:
- The average minimal amount of time your attention is taken away from driving is 5 seconds.
- Traveling 55 miles per hour, this is equivalent to having driven the length of a football field!
Arizona, Unlike Other States, Has not Passed Legislation Forbidding Texting and Driving
Many states have passed legislation forbidding texting while driving, but Arizona is not one of them. A total of 45 states and the District of Columbia have outlawed the practice. Texas, Missouri, and Oklahoma have a partial ban that prohibits recently licensed young drivers from texting.
The Grand Canyon State, however, remains one of the only two states in the U.S. that has no legislation whatsoever on this issue (the other is Montana). Although bills have been proposed in the Arizona state legislature, none has ever passed – with the exception of a law currently on the books forbidding school bus drivers from texting and driving.
That’s it? It’s clearly not enough, and not surprisingly municipalities have had to step up to the plate: The cities of Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff have passed local legislation banning texting and driving.
Proposed Legislation Prohibiting Texting in Arizona
State Senator Steve Farley (D-Tucson) has long been a proponent of passing state laws to ban texting while driving; this time around he’s more optimistic. According to the Phoenix Sun, Farley has the support of the Senate Government Committee Chairman John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills). While many agree legislation is needed, such laws admittedly can be very difficult to enforce, and they be limited in their scope. Even if the bill does pass, Farley’s law has been revised by a Senate panel, so that it would only prohibit the manual writing of text messages. Reading a text while you’re driving would still be allowed— a disappointing outcome for those who understand the dangers of distracted driving. [See related article from AZ Central].
Meanwhile, there are steps we can take as individuals to begin to combat the problem:
- Get in the habit of silencing your phone before driving, so you won’t be tempted to pick up the phone
- Take advantage of hands-free technology on our smartphones
- If your car does not have hands-free blue tooth technology, ask your local auto mechanic like Adams Specialty Automotive of Prescott AZ or local electronics store if they can install a device in your car
- Take a tip from teens and ask a passenger to be your “designated texter”
- Pass along the message: It can wait! A life is always more important than a text message
Parents can remind the kids not to text and drive and the kids can remind the parents to do the same. Drive safely everyone!
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