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Text Messaging

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Current prohibitions:
• School bus operators may not use cell phones while driving.

• In Phoenix, drivers are prohibited from text messaging.

• The ordinance prohibits the use of personal digital assistants to send or receive a written message while operating a motor vehicle.

• Personal digital assistants refer to a wireless electronic communication device that provides for data communication other than by voice.

• This ordinance does not apply to law enforcement and safety personnel, drivers of authorized emergency vehicles, holders of commercial driver licenses while driving within the scope of their employment; public transit personnel; a person who is reporting reckless or negligent behavior; a person who believes they are in physical danger and is the only adult in the motor vehicle; communicating to the following regarding an emergency situation:
• An emergency response operator
• A hospital, physician’s office or health care provider
• A provider of ambulance services
• A provider of firefighter services
• A law enforcement agency

• Violation of the ordinance is a nonmoving civil traffic violation

• If a person found in violation of the ordinance is not involved in a traffic accident, the person is subject to a civil penalty of $100, plus any other penalty assessments authorized by law.

• If a person found in violation of the ordinance is involved in a traffic accident, the person is subject to a civil penalty of $250, plus any other penalty assessments authorized by law.

• Peace officers are empowered to enforce the ordinance as a primary offense.

In 2007 Phoenix, Arizona became one of the first cities to ban text messaging while driving.

Other cities around Arizona are considering their options on either banning cell phones completely or instituting hands-free legislation. In 2008 and 2009 there were many bills introduced, relating to distracted driving, text-messaging and cell phone use while driving.

Distracted Driving – Arizona House Bill 2734 (Tobin)

Cell Phone Use While Driving – Arizona House Bill 2414 (Garcia)

Cellular Telephones – Arizona House Bill 2398 and 2397 (Farley)

Text Messaging – Arizona House Bill 2396 (Farley)

Cellular Telephone Use While Driving – Arizona House Bill 2191 (Farley)

These bills all failed, and we will see similar bills emerging in Arizona for the next session.

Mirroring legislation across the United States, Arizona is likely to have this legislation resurrected and potentially be brought forward to the voters. The issue will continue to be debated from both sides throughout the course of the legislative process.If a new bill does make it the voters, one indicator of how the vote might swing is that approximately 87% of Arizona drivers had favored the statewide ban on text messaging.

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