At the National Conference of State Legislators’ December 2012 meeting, an Arizona lawmaker announced that his focus for the 2013 legislative session was passing laws cracking down on distracted drivers. The state senator also noted the importance of battling impaired driving when speaking as part of a panel on dangerous driving and the ways that states have addressed driving issues.

Pushing for texting ban

State Sen. Steve Farely intends to introduce a bill that would ban texting while driving for all Arizona drivers. Arizona is one of only 11 states in the U.S. without a statewide ban on sending text messages while driving. Individual cities have ordinances making texting while driving illegal, but such a law has failed to gain traction at the state level. In January 2007, Farley was the first lawmaker in the U.S. to introduce a bill banning texting while driving. That measure failed, as have similar bills introduced in subsequent years – despite the fact that such laws were becoming increasingly common across the country.

The Arizona House of Representatives initially approved a bill banning texting while driving on March 5, 2012, but then withdrew support after the House re-voted on the bill.

The dangers of distracted driving are well-publicized. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 18 percent of all injury-causing motor vehicle accidents in 2010 were the result of distracted driving. NHTSA statistics show that in 2010 alone, 3092 people died and approximately another 416,000 were injured in distracted driving accidents.

According to a study completed by Monash University researchers, drivers who use hand-held electronic devices are four times more likely to be involved in an accident that seriously injures them. Virginia Tech Transportation Institute statistics show that the average text message takes 4.6 seconds to send, and during that time a driver travelling at 55 m.p.h. would have gone a distance equivalent to the length of a football field without looking at the road.

Impaired driving prevention efforts

Distracted driving is not the only concern of state officials. They also want to reduce the number of drivers on the road impaired by alcohol or drugs. The government relations director for the Arizona Department of Transportation noted that the state legislature, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, Department of Public Safety and ADOT have collaborated in their efforts to eliminate driving under the influence in the state through such things as increased penalties for offenses and public safety campaigns.

Talk to a lawyer

No matter how many safety precautions a person takes while driving, he or she cannot control the behavior of other drivers. People who drive while distracted or under the influence of alcohol and drugs are a threat to everyone’s safety and a major cause of traffic accidents. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted or impaired driver, consult a personal injury attorney with a proven record of success in recovering compensation for such injuries.