Tucson, Ariz. – It’s been called the mother of all distractions, a threat to everyone on the road. Yet, texting and driving behind the wheel is still not against the law in Arizona.
Michael Rosenberg, an Arizona driver knows this fact all too well. He was driving from Phoenix to Tucson, when he was pulled over by a highway patrol officer.
“She got out of her car, and said do you know what you were doing wrong, and I said no,” Rosenberg said.
The officer told Rosenberg that she stopped him because she noticed he was using his cell phone.
“I said, that’s a Tucson municipality law, that’s a Phoenix municipality law. We’re in the middle of Tucson and Phoenix, there’s no rule like that,” Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg’s response was correct, the officer was unable to give him a ticket. Instead, he drove away with a written warning.
“What I was doing was wrong, I was using my phone, I was distracted, but it wasn’t under the jurisdiction of the law,” Rosenberg said.
There are texting laws in effect for all drivers in 41 states. Partial bans in other states, and there are no laws banning texting while driving in Montana, South Carolina and Arizona.
Valerie Vinyard with AAA Arizona said they are working with lawmakers to change that.
“It’s really important that we get with the rest of the country, if you’re texting and driving, you’re 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash,” Vinyard said.
A recent AAA survey revealed that nearly 9 out of 10 Arizonans support a statewide ban on texting. Those numbers in favor of a ban aren’t only with AAA members.
State Senator Steve Farley (D-Tucson) said the demand for a statewide texting ban is high among his constituents.
“Every year, I have more and more victim’s families come into my office and share their stories,” Farley said.
Farley has been trying to pass bills that outlaw texting while driving statewide since 2007. He said there’s been some push back.
“People say that we don’t want to take away people’s freedom or liberty to do what they want to do, no matter how stupid,” Farley said.
There’s been no progress on Farley’s most current texting bill, SB1147, which was introduced in January.
He said he has been working with the Department of Public Safety to help them catch distracted driving, citing them with laws already on the books.