Arizona bill would ban drivers from using devices while at the wheel

| 12/5/2007

If an Arizona state lawmaker gets his way, a new law would target people who drive distracted.

Rep. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, is expected to offer legislation during the 2008 session that would prohibit reading, typing or sending text messages on an electronic wireless device, such as a BlackBerry.

Attempts to curb the practice of using the devices while driving have picked up steam following the release of a Nationwide Mutual Insurance survey that found one in five drivers “texting” while driving. That number nearly doubles for drivers aged 18 to 27.

Farley also is calling for rules that would require most drivers to keep their hands off the phone. Affected drivers would be prohibited from using hand-held cell phones. Talking on a phone equipped with a hands-free accessory would still be permitted.

Another provision would ban drivers younger than 18 from using any cell phones, hand-held or hands-free. Farley offered similar legislation during the 2007 session, but the bill stalled in committee. That effort made the practice a secondary offense. It exempted attempts to contact emergency personnel. It also excluded commercial driver’s license holders as long as the devices are being used “while driving within the scope of their employment.”

To view other legislative activities of interest for Arizona in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor