Texting and driving is a public health crisis that must not continue. One of the primary issues with texting and driving is that it can lead to accidents that cause catastrophic injuries or death to innocent people. To control the impact that this preventable event causes, an Arizona law that goes into full effect on Jan. 1, 2021, forbids this action.
Sadly, it took the death of a police officer to get the law to go through. Previous measures to ban texting while driving had not been successful. In January, the patrolman was out of his vehicle speaking to a motorist. A texting driver hit him, and the officer died.
What does the law say?
Until the date the law goes into effect, police officers can issue warnings to motorists who are texting. It makes it illegal to support the phone or hold it with any part of the body. You can’t check emails, instant messages, social media accounts or texts if you are operating a vehicle. You can use voice communication, including voice-to-text, as long as you aren’t supporting the phone. This enables people to use hands-free mode for GPS, texts, maps and other similar services.
When the law is in effect, drivers can face an initial fine of $75 to $149. Subsequent offenses come with a fine of $150 to $250. Nobody who is pulled over for using a phone has to turn the phone over to the cop or allow the officer to inspect it.
Are there any texting and driving laws in place now?
Several cities already have restrictions in place. Phoenix, Fountain Hills and Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community all prohibit texting while driving. El Mirage, Tempe, Surprise and Glendale have restrictions on using a handheld phone while driving. More municipalities may enact similar laws before the 2021 implementation of the state-wide law.
There are 17 states that prohibit all handheld phone usage for drivers. Many other states also have laws that expressly forbid texting while driving. Only Montana and Missouri don’t have a blanket law against this.
Hopefully, this law curbs the number of serious accidents that are due to cellphones. Victims of these crashes can still seek compensation for the damages they experience because of drivers who allow distractions to take priority over driving duties.