Distracted driving measures die in Arizona

| Monday, April 23, 2007

Three efforts in Arizona have died that targeted people who drive distracted.

Sponsored by Rep. Tom Prezelski, D-Tucson, the first bill would have required most drivers to keep their hands off the phone. Affected drivers would have been prohibited from using hand-held cell phones while behind the wheel. Talking on a phone equipped with a “hands-free” accessory would still have been permitted.

A separate effort offered by Rep. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, focused on people who send or read text messages while driving.

Both bills exempted attempts to contact emergency personnel. They also excluded commercial driver’s license holders as long as the devices are being used “while driving within the scope of their employment.”

In both instances, violators would have received warnings – not tickets – until Jan. 31, 2008. After that, they would have faced $50 fines. Anyone who causes a crash would have faced fines up to $200.

While Farley believes “texting” while driving is a safety hazard, he conceded to the Arizona Daily Star he has no hard facts and figures to prove his point.

Another bill would have forbidden drivers from watching television while behind the wheel.

Sponsored by Rep. John Nelson, R-Glendale, the bill would have prohibited drivers from watching any device capable of displaying live or recorded television, cable or satellite broadcasts, DVDs or video games that is located within the driver’s view if it’s located in front of the back of the driver’s seat or is visible to the driver – regardless of whether the device interferes with safe driving.

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