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Arizona Texting Ban Takes Aim at Distracted Driving Risks

Arizona auto accident attorneySafety advocates continue to fight to reduce the dangers caused by texting drivers on Arizona roads.

Until this month, Arizona has had the dubious distinction of being one of only two states in the nation without any sort of texting ban for drivers. Texting bans have been proposed in the Arizona legislature at least 13 times. Finally, and just barely, lawmakers have passed a ban, but it applies in such limited circumstances that it is unlikely to make much difference from a safety perspective.

Arizona Capital Times reported on the law, which went into effect July 1. The new texting ban only applies to new teenage drivers - that is, those with a learner's permit or within the first six months of holding a driver's license. Even among those teenage drivers, texting and driving is only a secondary offense, which means police cannot pull a driver over purely on suspicion of violating the texting ban. A ticket can only be issued during a traffic stop for another offense, such as speeding. Unfortunately, research has shown that secondary enforcement texting bans have a negligible impact on car accidents.

ABC15 recently reported on numerous attempts to pass stronger texting bans in Arizona, all of which have failed to become law. Arizona remains one of just three states that do not ban texting and driving for all motorists. The battle continues in the state legislature, with multiple lawmakers planning to introduce legislation in the next session.

Texting Dangers & Legal Liability for Traffic Collisions

Most states across the nation have banned texting and driving for good reason. In general, there are three types of distracted driving:

  • Manual distraction (hands off the wheel)
  • Visual distraction (eyes off the road)
  • Cognitive distraction (mentally distracted from the task of operating the vehicle)

Texting is particularly dangerous because it is "all of the above." A texting driver has at least one hand off the wheel of the car. His or her eyes are diverted from the roadway to the phone screen. And texting distracts a driver mentally, both while actually composing or sending a text message and for some time afterward.

However, texting bans are notoriously difficult to enforce because it's nearly impossible for police to determine whether a young driver is texting, which is illegal, or dialing a phone to make a call, which remains legal. Teens are also still permitted to use their phones for things like GPS and mapping. Determining a driver's age can also be difficult, which makes an age-restricted ban such as the new Arizona law extremely difficult to enforce.

At least nine Arizona cities and two counties have passed hand-held cell phone bans in their jurisdiction. But statewide, we are still a long way from putting our phones down.

Those injured in an Arizona traffic accident are best served by contacting an experienced law firm at the outset of their case. If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident caused by distracted driving, contact Israel & Gerity, PLLC for a free consultation.

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