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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
7:13 PM Thu, Oct. 18th

Editorial: When others are at risk, the state should step in

Starting Sunday, if you use a cell phone, tablet, laptop or gaming device while driving in the state of Washington you can be fined $136 for the first violation under a new law, the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics (DUIE).

A second violation will cost you $235 it is a moving violation, similar to speeding. It is considered a primary offense, so law enforcement officers do not need any other reason to pull you over and cite you.

Washington becomes the 14th state, in addition to Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to ban using a hand-held device while driving.

Why hasn’t Arizona joined them?

The case that rallied Washington lawmakers to approve their ban involved two women who were killed while they were stopped in traffic. A car slammed into them at 76 miles per hour. Moments before the crash, the passenger of the car that failed to slow down took a selfie of himself and the driver.

Arizona residents have a history of being cautious with legislative overreach, preferring to let people live their lives and keep the laws to as few as are needed.

That’s one of the reasons a motorcycle helmet law continues to be opposed here. If a motorcycle rider gets in a crash and slams into the ground without a helmet, they pay the consequences (though the rest of us may have to pay higher insurance costs as a result).

But this is different. You can be a law-abiding citizen who never uses a hand-held electronic device while driving, and another distracted driver could end your life or the life of someone precious to you.

In cases such as that it is vital for the state to step in and help protect the general welfare by banning all hand-held devices while driving.

State Sen. Karen Fann (R-Prescott) has been a leader on this, though her years of efforts have only so far led to a teen ban. We encourage her to keep fighting, it’s a worthy cause.

And we encourage the rest of the state legislators to get on board. No one should have to be told that their son, or daughter, or husband, or wife, or mother, or father, or grandchild was killed because some couple was taking a selfie and not watching the road.