Should Texting While Driving be Banned in AZ?
Right now, Arizona is one of only six states that does not have a ban on texting while driving. The other states are Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma and Texas.
In fact, according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, Arizona is one of only three states that does not have a ban on texting for any driver. Four of the states that don’t have a texting ban do ban it for novice drivers: Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Mississippi. Three of the states that don’t have a ban do prohibit school bus drivers from texting while driving: Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi.
Arizona has no limitations for texting while driving at all. In fact, it has no ban on cell phone use while driving at all, except for bus drivers.
Arizona is a bit of an anomaly. Forty-four other states have passed laws banning this dangerous practice, and all but five of those states have made texting while driving a primary offense. That means that an officer can pull over a driver for texting while driving. The officer does not need to identify another traffic offense to make the stop.
Legislators have introduced bills to ban texting while driving, but they have not been passed. However, the cities of Phoenix and Tucson have both passed their own bans on texting. The fine is $100 for the offense, or $250 if the texting leads to an accident.
Dangers of Texting While Driving
Texting while driving can be a very dangerous practice.
According to Distraction.gov, the official U.S. government website for information about distracted driving, texting is just one of many types of distracted driving that includes talking on a cell phone and eating while driving. The site says that reaching for a phone, texting, or dialing a phone while driving increases the risk of a crash three fold. People take their eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds to respond to a text message, which is enough time to travel the length of a football field if traveling 55 miles per hour.
According Distraction.gov, 3,328 people in the United States died in crashes caused by distracted driving in 2012. Another 421,000 were injured in accidents caused by distracted driving that year.
Many drivers involved in distracted driving crashes are young, but texting while driving can be a problem for all ages. Distraction.gov says that of the drivers under 20 years old who were involved in fatal crashes, 10 percent were reported as driving while distracted, which included texting while driving. For drivers in their 20s, that number rose to 27 percent.
The number of crashes may continue to rise as more and more people admit to texting while driving. Distraction.gov says that 25 percent of teenagers send a text message at least once every time they get behind the wheel of a car. The site says that 20 percent of teenagers and 10 percent of adults say they have extended conversations via text while driving.
The evidence is clear: Texting while driving is dangerous, and there should be a ban against it in Arizona. The majority of states have already come to this conclusion and passed legislation against texting while driving. Arizona should join them and help protect its residents.
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