On April 18, 2019, Arizona legislators gave final approval for a comprehensive statewide ban on the use of hand-held cellphones for motorists. The bill will now travel to Governor Doug Ducey for his anticipated signature. With the passage of this bill, Arizona joins 47 other states in banning texting while driving. After the bill is signed by the governor, it will override the anti-texting ordinances of 27 Arizona cities and 2 Arizona counties and give Arizona drivers certainty on what they can and cannot do while driving. Right now, we have a hodgepodge of ordinances from town to town. I have seen this confusion in many car accident cases where texting was the cause or a contributing factor.
House Bill 2318 will prohibit drivers from talking, texting, typing, or browsing social media sites on their cellphones while driving unless they are using the device in a hands-free mode. This bill would also apply to other kinds of portable wireless communication devices or stand-alone electronic devices. In addition, the house approved a measure that strengthens the state's existing distracted driving law.
Citizens supporting passage of the bill included family members of people killed by distracted driving, including the mother of Salt River Tribal police officer Clayton Townsend, who was fatally struck by a driver who was texting while driving in January. A witness told the police the driver crossed multiple lanes of traffic while looking down at his phone.
The bill was also supported by the Arizona Police Officers Association, Arizona Association of Police Chiefs, and the Fraternal Order of Police, as well as AAA Arizona and Arizona Property Casualty Insurance Association. It is estimated that 83 percent of Arizona voters also support the legislation.
"This isn't about writing a lot of tickets. This is about saving lives," said Oro Valley Police Chief Daniel Sharp. "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."