Is 2018 The Year Arizona Bans Texting While Driving?

Phoenix firefighter Jonathon Hall believes a ban on texting while driving could have saved his father. (Photo by Emily Richardson/Cronkite News)

By Emily Richardson and Tatum Smith

PHOENIX – Phoenix firefighter Jonathon Hall believes a ban on texting while driving could have saved his father.

Thomas Hall died in a Prescott Valley crash in 2016, after a woman looking at her cellphone rear-ended his motorcycle, Hall said at a Senate hearing this week.

Sen. Steve Farley, a Tucson Democrat, is sponsoring the bill, but such measures have failed to gain traction in the Legislature over the past decade.“My dad was my hero and losing him is terrible,” said Hall, showing his support for Senate Bill 1261, which proposes to ban driving while texting.

Arizona, Missouri and Montana are the only states that have not banned texting and driving, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

“Over the years, I’ve had an awful lot of victims’ families coming into my office and telling me their stories about how their life was forever changed by a texting driver who carelessly ran into, killed, or injured seriously a family member or themselves,” Farley said. “We have to stop that from happening.”

Hall, who testified Tuesday before the Senate Transportation and Technology Committee, said it’s important to spread awareness to end distracted driving.

SB 1261 will allow law enforcement to hold those who endanger others accountable, Hall said.

The measure also would raise public awareness of the dangers of drivers using a phone while behind the wheel. Every day, nine people are killed by a distracted driver, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

“The education piece is paramount in tandem with the legislation,” Hall said.

If the bill becomes law, it would make it a petty offense for drivers “to read, write, or send electronic messages” while behind the wheel. Drivers could still use hands-free devices and navigation systems.

Farley hopes this is the year the distracted driver measure succeeds.

“This year provides a great opportunity,” Farley said. ” I think there’s a whole different spirit here in the legislature where we can put any of those old history things aside and just legislate common sense.”

6 Comments on "Is 2018 The Year Arizona Bans Texting While Driving?"

  1. Texting means – No GPS? As a business owner that has trucks all over the city and southern arizona – we use GPS all the time – every time we are driving to service a need it’s GPS that gets to where all you all live… and it turns out to be ‘lots’ of out of the way places – without GPS, not so good service – lots more labor. So now what… ?

    • Heather Dale | February 9, 2018 at 10:24 am |

      GPS is OK, but not perfect. A LOT of people have gotten into big trouble by following the directions. Last week a car was pulled out of Lake Champlain cause the GPS said to take that route. Trucks are constantly getting stuck on a mountain road cause it says to take that route. Semis can’t get around the hairpin turn.

      • and if it said to drive off a cliff? 🙂

        my question is – if you have it in your hand using your phone GPS do you get the 100.00 fine?

  2. If by passing a bill that outlaws texting while driving, what would be the penalty for causing a fatality car wreck for the perpetrator? A slap on the hand? A year’s probation for taking the life of an innocent person? How about permanent suspension of a driver’s license for committing vehicular manslaughter? The penalties of such proposed laws never match the grief caused by the crime. This proposed bill needs to be thoroughly explained to the voting public.

  3. How about coffee? A sandwich ? Doing makeup? using the computer, police do this all the time.. ? I know hands free – my car is not up to that technological level – so one could say those without will be fined more often because they have older cars that are not as technically equipped. Hmmmmm

  4. Everyday I drive to work I see people with Cell Phones in their hands while driving. Normal citizens, Policemen, Semi-Trucks Drivers, School Bus Drivers, etc… They are dangerous with high power machines than can kill at any moment under their hands an feet. They get less training than folks with Firearms and yet they ignore the law not to use the cell phone in their lap. Every year our Auto Insurance goes up which agents tell us accidents with cell phones is the major reason for the increase. I’d like to know why it is so important to talk or text while driving? Do it before or after you drive and save a life.

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