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11/7/2013 6:00:00 AM
Arizona lawmaker hits 'resend' on push to ban texting while driving
State Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson
State Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson
Oscar A. Contreras
Cronkite News

PHOENIX - Despite failing repeatedly since 2007, a state lawmaker said he is going to try again to have Arizona join 41 other states that have outlawed texting while driving.

"Why shouldn't we have a law?" said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson. "This majority enacts hundreds of laws every single year. Why not one that actually can save lives?"

He has worked on his own and with Republicans over the years. In 2010, a bill with a GOP author won Senate approval only to not be taken up in the House.

Arizona has a law banning school bus drivers from using cellphones for any purpose while driving.

Farley said there's more than enough community support for a full ban.

"I will never stop because I have had so many victims' families fall in my office telling me of the horrors their family has been put through when a loved one has been killed or been seriously injured by a distracted driver," he said.

Phoenix and Tucson have ordinances banning texting while driving, but Michelle Donati, public affairs supervisor for AAA Arizona, said that isn't enough.

"We need something widespread across the board in order to help curb the issue for Arizona as a whole," she said.

Alberto Gutier, director of the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety, noted that the state already has a law against distracted driving in general. He questioned whether a texting ban could be enforced and suggested public education as more effective way to cut down on the problem.

"I think Senator Farley has some very good intentions in saving lives and preventing tragedies on the highways," he said. "But in the state of Arizona there's enough laws in the books to be able to enforce it, if it could be enforced."

Farley said a law could be enforced.

"I don't buy the argument that it's hard to enforce because I've had plenty of patrol officers saying they know exactly who is driving while texting," he said. "They can tell who is texting and they will be able to cite for that."

Donati said other states have shown that laws against texting while driving can be enforced and are effective.

"We can look to other states that have incorporated similar laws, and we can see through data that it has made a difference," she said. "It has saved lives."

Farley said a May accident near Yuma in which a Department of Public Safety officer was struck and killed by a trucker who stands accused of browsing Facebook at the time highlights the dangers of distracted driving.

"It shows how oblivious you are to anything happening on the roadway in front of you when you are on your smartphone instead of looking at the road in front of you," he said.

ICT - Hummingbead of Kingman
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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, November 8, 2013
Article comment by: Not Again

I think there are enough rules on the books. Sometimes you have to rely on common sense, and sometimes it best to just let Mother Nature thin out the gene pool.

Posted: Friday, November 8, 2013
Article comment by: R H

Why Suuuuure !. Let's give our government , via an army of INSANELY well armed 'peace officers', yet another form of probable cause to not only pull you over and engage in fishing expeditions but inspect your phone for text messages and the timestamps therein . Confiscation of the phone as 'evidence' could occur too . You have seen what happens when you trade liberty for safety so PLEASE wise up and tell your state legislators to oppose this. Laws should not be written to punish the masses for the lowest common denominator , basically... those with dangerously short attention spans who pose a threat to the motoring public whether or not they are texting.

Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2013
Article comment by: Valerie Loop

A great danger to liberty in America are the multitudes of citizens whose first thought following discovery that a certain behavior or substance is not good is, "We need a law against that!"
No, we need to adjust our own behavior toward safety, if needed, and warn others and teach our kids about what we have learned. That is it. We do not need laws -- we need freedom to behave as responsible citizens. We need to expect it of ourselves and each other.

Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2013
Article comment by: Kingman Resident

Why is this issue so difficult to resolve? We have seen the dangers that texting and calling with mobile device can do while driving. Is this state so backwards in their standards for the people of Arizona!! Quit doing lip service and get off your duff and do something!!

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