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2/21/2014 6:02:00 AM
Texting and driving ban would apply to new drivers
Proposal to ban practice for all goes nowhere
Distracted Driving Bills
HB 2359

• Author: Karen Fann, R-Prescott.

• Key provision: Would ban the use of wireless communication devices by novice drivers.

• Status: Endorsed by the House Transportation Committee.

HB 2376

• Author: Victoria Steele, D-Tucson.

• Key provision: Would ban texting while driving by all drivers.

• Status: Not heard in committee.

SB 1147

• Author: Steve Farley, D-Tucson.

• Key provision: Would ban texting while driving for all drivers.

• Status: Not heard in committee.

SB 1163

• Author: Barbara McGuire, D-Kearny.

• Key provision: Would prohibit drivers of vehicles used for public transit, including buses, limousines and taxis, from using handheld wireless communication devices.

• Status: Not heard in committee.

By Jamie Killin
Cronkite News

PHOENIX - A bill that would prohibit novice drivers from using cellphones for any purpose other than emergencies advanced Thursday through the House Transportation Committee.

However, two bills seeking to ban texting by all drivers apparently are going nowhere.

Those measures, by Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson, and Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, weren't heard by the deadline for bills to get through committees in their originating chambers.

Linda Gorman, communications and public affairs director for AAA Arizona, said the organization supports a full ban on texting and driving but would be glad to see the more limited bill become law.

"We recognize the dangers that distracted driving poses," she said.

HB 2359, authored by Rep. Karen Fann, R-Prescott, would prohibit the use of wireless communication devices for Class D or G permittees as well as for Class G driver's license holders during their first six months of driving.

A Class G license allows those ages 16 to 18 to operate any vehicle except those requiring a motorcycle or commercial license. Class D licenses have the same restrictions but are only available to those 18 and older.

"I believe it is a good compromise to try and make our roads a little bit safer," Fann said.

The House Transportation Committee, which Fann chairs, endorsed the measure unanimously.

Steele, a member of the committee, said she was happy to see the bill advance.

"I think it's a beginning," she said.

Stuart Goodman, a lobbyist for AAA Arizona, said the bill would expand on restrictions already in place for new drivers and serve as a tool for parents to improve the driving habits of teens.

"It's something pretty powerful to say to your child: 'It's the law,'" he said.

Rep. Juan Carlos Escamilla, D-San Luis, voted for the bill but said it suggests that young drivers should set the example.

"I don't agree that it should be kids giving the example to adults," he said. "It should be the other way around."

Steele's bill calling for a state ban on texting while driving, HB 2376, would fine offenders $50, rising to $200 if a texting driver is involved in an accident.

She said she plans to try again next session.

"It's a safety concern," she said. "It's a deadly thing to text while driving."

Farley's bill, SB 1147, would create a $100 fine for a first offense, rising to $300 for a second offense. A driver involved in an accident while texting would be fined $5,000, rising to $10,000 if the accident kills someone.

There is no way to argue that texting and driving is even moderately safe, Gorman said.

"Texting really is the mother of all distractions," she said.

Also not advancing was SB 1163, authored by Sen. Barbara McGuire, D-Kearny, which would prohibit drivers of vehicles used for public transportation, such as buses, taxis and limousines, from using wireless handheld communication devices.

State law already forbids cellphone use by school bus drivers. Phoenix and Tucson have ordinances against texting while driving.

Fann said her bill would make roads safer.

"This is why we have restrictions," she said. "It is important for them to have 100 percent of their concentration on learning how to drive, No. 1, and learning how to be a defensive driver."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, February 24, 2014
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

Texting and driving is a grand mistake for anyone experienced or inexperienced, a disaster waiting for a place to happen, I am one of them older, experienced drivers and I never text and drive, if I talk on cell phone always use ear plugs and keep the old eyes on the road 100%!

Posted: Sunday, February 23, 2014
Article comment by: R H

The question no one is asking (but SHOULD) is about enforcement . How does a cop know what class of license a particular driver has who (presumably) was witnessed texting and driving ?. Allowing this kind of stop (to determine the class of license a person holds) is the same as allowing any old fishing expedition to be initiated by any cop who could defend it in court by saying the driver 'looked' young .
I say NO . No more laws to encourage or allow fishing expeditions by law enforcement . As if there aren't enough ways around the 4th Amendment as it is ?.

Posted: Sunday, February 23, 2014
Article comment by: anthony mccauley

any driver that drives on a federal highway system should have to follow the same rules as the semis do on the road just not left up to the individual states. If you want federal aide for the roads should follow the federal guide lines for driving and phone use Arizona doesn't have a law like that which is B.S.

Posted: Saturday, February 22, 2014
Article comment by: R H

LESS laws , not more laws ....PERIOD !.

Posted: Saturday, February 22, 2014
Article comment by: Uncle Anson

Are you kidding me? Age profiling? What a great idea. Like the young driver will listen to anything let alone don't text and drive ...they know better....just like us old ones. Oh, and soccer mom and dad too. Get a grip and stop wasting time and money on frivolous idiocy. Just fix the problem, OK.

Posted: Friday, February 21, 2014
Article comment by: Jay Fleming

Texting while driving law's are not needed. Every state has some form of negelent or careless driving law.

I see women putting on makeup while driving, but we don't need a no makeup while driving law.

If you are driving bad because you're texting, playing with the radio, or just not paint attention, they can be stopped and ticketed under current laws.

Posted: Friday, February 21, 2014
Article comment by: Fed up

"New Drivers"? It should be all or none! Respond to a few accidents caused by nincompoops with their faces buried in a phone and see who the culprits are! I just watched one (and not a "new driver") turn up the off-ramp (the wrong way) onto I-40, and of course with her eyes looking down and texting! She wasn't a spring chicken either!

Posted: Friday, February 21, 2014
Article comment by: jim caico

Should apply to all drivers who text, no matter the age.

Posted: Friday, February 21, 2014
Article comment by: desert dweller

What DIMWIT figured that one out? Ban everyone for being so stupid as texting while talking on phones either, these hair lips can't drive and talk at the same time!

Posted: Friday, February 21, 2014
Article comment by: Rick O'Shea

Using a phone at all should be banned for all drivers.

Posted: Friday, February 21, 2014
Article comment by: WHO SCOW

This should apply to all driver's in my opinion!

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