Hearing that tempting buzz or ring of your phone while on the road can be awfully distracting. However, giving into such a distraction can cause a disaster in the blink of an eye. Well, the latest Arizona texting and driving bill, signed into law by Governor Ducey on Monday, April 22, 2019, aims to curtail accidents caused by texting and driving. As such, Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys want you to be safe and informed while on the road. So, here is the scoop on the newest Arizona texting and driving policies.
Arizona was one of the few states that did not have a full state-wide ban against texting while driving. According to an AT&T study, states that have no full, uniform, state-wide ban on texting have more instances of texting and driving. In fact, such states are 17% higher than average. Arizona just happens to be one example of a state with above-average levels of texting and driving.
Texting is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the most risky and dangerous form of distracted driving. This is because it is a mix of the 3 types of distractions: visual, manual, and cognitive. It follows, then, that If you decide to text while driving, your chances of getting in an accident multiply by 23.
In comparison, using a cell phone while driving results in 3,000–6,000 deaths each year, and such use contributes to approximately 25% of all car accidents. Furthermore, there are five times as many accidents from cell phone use than from drunk driving, and about 400,000 injuries annually result from accidents where texting and driving was involved.
A single text takes approximately five seconds of your attention. Therefore, when traveling at 55 mph, a single text can cause you to take your eyes off the road for the entire length of a football field.
Additionally, according to a 2017 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, over 87% of respondents support legislation against reading, typing, or sending a text or email message via cellular devices. Finally, over 87% believe that distracted driving is more of a threat than drugged driving, drunk driving, and aggressive driving.
The latest Arizona texting and driving bill, also known as House Bill 2318, will have a sharp impact on Arizona’s texting and driving laws. Previously, Arizona did not have state-wide laws that banned texting and driving. However, with the passage of this bill, the use of any handheld electronic device while driving is now prohibited, texting or not.
The bill is inspired by the death of Clayton Townsend, a Salt River police officer. Townsend was killed by a distracted driver that was reportedly texting and driving at the time of the incident.
While the bill does prohibit handheld electronic devices while driving, there are some exceptions. For example, you can use your cell phone to report illegal activity or to call for help. Additionally, if your vehicle is at a red light or parked, you won’t be penalized for using your phone. Hands-free devices and hands-free, interactive navigation systems are also exempt from the bill’s penalties.
Beginning in January 2021, first-time offenders can receive a fine from $75 to $149, and subsequent offenses will result in fines from $150 to $250. Until then, police officers must issue warnings instead of official citations.
The House voted to pass the revised Senate bill 44 to 16. The final step occurred when Governor Ducey signed the bill into law. He did so in the presence of Clayton Townsend’s family in the rotunda of the Arizona Capitol Museum.
“This is a great day for the people of our state,” says Senator Kate Brophy McGee, sponsor of the Senate bill. “We have a public health crisis, and this law will go a long way to solving it.”
Some have criticized the bill as being frivolous or impractical. People worry that, because penalties don’t go into effect until 2021, the bill would not be very pragmatic. Oro Valley Police Chief Daniel Sharp decided to chime in. “This isn’t about writing a lot of tickets,” he said. “This is about saving lives. It’s a quality of life issue. People should be able to run their errands without the fear of someone running into them because they have a phone in their hand.”
With the main focus being on House Bill 2318, a separate Senate bill is in the works. Senate Bill 1141 is similar to HB 2318 but broadens the scope of offenses and penalties. It deals with distracted driving in general, not specifically texting and driving/electronic devices. The bill narrowly passed the House vote with an amendment and is now headed back to the Senate for approval before it reaches Ducey.
What Should You Do?
To stay safe on the road and to avoid facing hefty penalties listed in the Arizona texting and driving bill, you should never use your phone unnecessarily while operating a motor-vehicle. If you have an emergency, pull over to the side of the road, if possible, before making a phone call.
Additionally, when using navigation systems, make sure you’re utilizing the hands-free or voice-activated features. The optimal way to drive, though, is with no distractions at all. So, if you can, put your phone away altogether. The fewer distractions there are, the better your concentration on the road.
Accidents, Injuries, and Arizona’s Texting and Driving Bill
With the passage of HB 2318 comes changes to Arizona’s legal code, which means that if you were injured by someone that was texting and driving, you don’t want to navigate the laws yourself. Instead, contact our legal team at Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys right away! Our personal injury lawyers know how to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Our office is open from Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., but you can always call us at 844-977-1900. Consultations are always free, so there’s no risk in contacting us. Additionally, you can reach out to us with a contact form or take advantage of our LiveChat feature. There are plenty of ways to get in touch, and we don’t collect a penny until we win your case. So don’t wait; call us today!
The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.