While cities in Arizona look to ban texting while driving, we’re working hard to to end distracted driving throughout the state.
Peoria leaders will wait to ban texting while driving to see if state lawmakers step up to regulate phone use behind the wheel.
Peoria is one of the only cities in the northwest Phoenix area that has not banned hand-held cell phone use while driving.
Peoria was considering a texting ban when state Senator Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, introduced Senate Bill 1165, which proposes a statewide ban of all hand-held cell phone use while driving. McGee said she was hoping to fast-track the bill through the Legislature. As of Wednesday, her bill had not been heard in committee.
However, the Peoria City Council tabled its own proposal Tuesday.
Mayor Cathy Carlat, who favors a texting ban, agreed it is best to wait.
“It seems to make sense for us to wait till we see what happens at the state Legislature,” Carlat said.
In Scottsdale, City Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp also pushed for regulation after the death of Salt River tribal police Officer Clayton Townsend, who was struck and killed by a distracted driver along Loop 101 near Scottsdale on Jan. 8.
Klapp has said she’d prefer to see a statewide law to provide consistency for drivers.
The father of Townsend’s widow supports McGee’s push at the state Capitol. “Enough is enough,” Peter Johnson said at a news conference last month.
“We have to get the phones out of our hands. We have to stop it. This is the time,” he said.
McGee’s proposal is one of several bills introduced at the Legislature this session.
- Senate Bill 1165 would enact a statewide ban on hand-held cellphone use while driving.
- State Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, introduced House Bill 2069 that would prohibit texting while driving on highways. That bill also was assigned to committees but has not been heard.
- State Sen. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, introduced Senate Bill 1141 that would ban drivers from any type of distracted driving that creates a hazard. Opponents have said that it needs to be more specific to cellphone usage to be enforceable. The bill was assigned to committees but has not yet been heard.
The new push comes after the Legislature has considered, but failed to enact, bans on texting while driving every year for more than a decade.
Currently, texting and driving is only banned for new, teen drivers. At this point, Arizona is one of just three states without a texting ban for all drivers.
Peoria leaders has been looking into a local regulation for months, but stopped short of their neighboring cities of Surprise, El Mirage and Glendale, where only hands-free cell phone use is allowed while driving.
Peoria council members favored a ban on texting while driving, which would still allow drivers to hold their phones to talk. Councilwoman Vicki Hunt had voiced concerns about going any further.
“In my core, I am fundamentally against government overreach into people’s private lives,” Hunt said at a meeting in September. “I think this skates so close to it that it bothers me … (but) I’m not going to oppose this.”
Here’s how the regulations break down in the Valley:
- El Mirage — prohibits all handheld-cellphone use while driving.
- Fountain Hills — prohibits texting while driving.
- Glendale — prohibits all handheld-cellphone use while driving (takes effect Feb. 7).
- Phoenix — prohibits texting while driving.
- Surprise — prohibits all handheld-cellphone use while driving.
- Tempe — prohibits talking on the phone or texting while driving, but only if police can prove the driver posed a threat to others or him or herself. It’s considered a secondary offense.
Cities outside the Valley — Bisbee, Clifton, Chino Valley, Flagstaff (texting ban only), Kingman, Oro Valley, Prescott, San Luis, Sedona, Tucson and Yuma — prohibit all handheld-cellphone use while driving.