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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
6:03 PM Sat, Sept. 22nd

Drivers should hang up and drive

Life on the highways could become a little safer if a committee promoting an initiative to pro-hibit drivers from using cell phones withouthands-free devices is successful.

If the Safer Road Arizona Committee gathers enough signatures to put the measure on the 2008 ballot, signs are the measure will fly like an eagle with the voters.

Currently, the Associated Press says,four states ­ California, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut ­ and the District of Columbia have banned drivers from using hand-held cell phones.

California Highway Patrol figures indicate cell-phone use is the top cause of accidents resulting from distracted drivers.

The Arizona measure proposes a $100 to $200 fine for using a cell phone without a hands-free device while driving.

The effort is likely to gather thousands of signatures and ultimately votes from people who either have had close calls at the hands of cell-phone gabbers or encountered inconvenience following someone more focused on the conversation than driving ­ not to mention those who have lost loved ones in accidents that cell phone talkers caused.

Arizona's current negligent homicide statute requires a driver to be drug- or alcohol-impaired to face prosecution. The Daily Courier strongly believes in toughening that statute. A sober driver who kills someone while talking on a cell phone or changing a CD is far more culpable than a drunk or drug-impaired driver.

Further propelling the measure toward the ballot is the fact that the Arizona Legislature has rejected similar proposals in the past.

Like it or not, this one likely will be a winner if it gets on the ballot.