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Mon, March 18

No local texting and driving ban planned, for now
Coconino County has one in place

National Conference of State Legislatures

National Conference of State Legislatures

KINGMAN - Coconino County authorities have begun citing drivers for talking on their cell phones without a hands-free device, but Mohave County officials aren't planning on taking similar steps anytime soon.

Coconino County approved an ordinance in April that generally bans texting and making calls with cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. Authorities had been giving warnings there for the past few months.

Hildy Angius, chairwoman of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors, said she wants to see what action the Arizona Legislature takes before considering it for the county.

"How do I feel about people using cell phones [while driving]? Of course people shouldn't," Angius said. "I do and my husband gets mad at me all the time."

Mohave County Supervisor Steve Moss is not in favor of banning cell phone use.

"I think we should trust citizens to act responsibly based on circumstances," Moss said. "I have no interest in turning Arizona into California."

Coconino County's ban has several exceptions. For example, it doesn't apply to emergency calls to police or fire departments, or to a hospital, doctor's office or ambulance service.

Anyone found violating the ban could be fined $100. The fee goes up to $250 if the violation causes a collision.

Coconino County Supervisor Mandy Metzger says she's hopeful the ordinance brings attention to distracted driving and improves safety on the roads.

The ordinance allowed cities within the county to opt out.

Bans on mobile phone use while driving have been proposed in Arizona, but none have made it through the legislative process.

While Arizona has no law against cell phone use, drivers can be cited for distracted driving or reckless driving if an officer observes swerving, unsafe lane change or other traffic violations.

A study by the Arizona Department of Public Safety showed 10,166 crashes from November 2013 to April 2014, with 1,163 crashes (11 percent) caused by distracted drivers.

Ten people were killed and 380 were injured as a result of distracted driving.

Although cell phone use typically comes to mind, it's not the leading cause of distracted driving accidents.

"Outside distractions" are the leading cause, accounting for more than 22 percent of the accidents. Reaching for objects within the vehicle was the second at around 11 percent, followed closely by cell phone use, also around 11 percent.


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