Arizona has finally banned the use of cell phones and other such devices by anyone who happens to be operating a motor vehicle, thus becoming the 48th state to do so. Governor Doug Ducey was accompanied by victims of negligent drivers and their families when he signed House Bill 2318 into law at the Capitol. Although this cell phone ban is welcomed by many, some critics argue that Arizona is always a step or two behind other states when it comes to public safety and that that should change. Indeed, as any personal injury attorney in Gilbert, AZ will tell you, lawmakers have consistently failed, year after year, to pass laws banning the use of cell phones while driving.
Fortunately, this time around, Legislator Steve Farley, D-Tucson, was instrumental in having the ban signed into law. One of the biggest motivations for this to happen was the death of police officer Clayton Townsend who was killed when he was hit by a driver as he stood next to his patrol car during a traffic stop. The motorist who was held to be responsible for the death of Officer Clayton Townsend would later admit that he had been texting when the accident took place. Officer Clayton’s mother testified at the Arizona State Legislature in order to support the bill being signed into law so that others will not have to suffer her son’s fate. Officer Clayton Townsend left behind a wife and a young daughter.
Officer Clayton Townsend’s death at such a young age is tragic and, unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people to be killed by the negligent actions of drivers on Arizona’s roads and highways. In fact, by some estimates, one person is killed every 9 hours in the state because of negligent drivers. Of course, there are a lot more car accidents than that and those cause nearly 150 people to suffer injuries to one extent or another on a daily basis. A lot of these accidents happen because the liable person behind the wheel is impaired by alcohol or drugs, but more and more of these accidents are attributed to drivers who choose to text on a cell phone while operating their vehicle. House Bill 2318 makes it illegal for someone who is operating a motor vehicle to send or read text messages, take or make calls, or use their phone for emails, or other activity. It is hoped that this new law will prevent many deaths and injuries on the state’s roads and highways.
Although the new law bans cell phone use while driving, motorists are allowed voice communication if they utilize earpieces or headphones. Text messages can also be sent if voice commands are employed to do so, but certainly not in the traditional way. Offices will begin to issue warnings immediately but may not issue citations until January 1, 2021. Breaking this law will carry a fine of $75 to $149 for first-time offenders, and $150 to $250 for a second offense.
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