By now, most everyone is aware that distracted driving, especially texting while driving is unsafe and is a common cause of car crashes. Texting, Facebooking, or emailing while driving has been unlawful in the City of Phoenix since 2007. However, the State of Arizona has not enacted legislation prohibited this conduct. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association 44 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. Arizona is missing from that list.
Phoenix Municipal Code Section 36-76.01 Use of personal digital assistants while driving prohibits using using a "personal digital assistant" to send or receive a written message while the motor vehicle is in motion. This code provision is a bit problematic, because it prohibits receiving messages while driving which would put anyone with a telephone connected to cellular service in violation of this ordinance, because messages are being received at all times. Perhaps, the City of Phoenix, meant to prohibit reading messages while driving.
Is it time for the State of Arizona to pass a ban on texting while driving? There have been significant numbers and high profile car accidents caused by the distraction resulting from texting while driving in Arizona and around the country. However, this is an an actual problem; it appears that every legislative session, the Arizona legislature fixates on hypothetical issues and hot-button political issues instead of addressing real problems.
Jay Ciulla is a Phoenix, Arizona personal injury and wrongful death attorney.