Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Sun, Dec. 08

Editorial: It's past time to ban texting

Back on Aug. 13, 2007, Stacey Stubbs of Chino Valley was driving her PT Cruiser on Loop 101 in Peoria when suddenly a Ford Ranger pickup struck her head-on.

The crash killed her and the driver of the Ranger, 19-year-old Ashley Miller of Glendale. Police believe Ashley was texting on a cell phone just before the crash.

No one deserves to die, but Ashley's behavior had an inevitable result that brought tragedy to another family. Stacey Stubbs, 40, was looking forward to marrying Vinnie Sorce, who at the time had a blog on dCourier.com.

The accident gave rise to several unsuccessful efforts to enact a no-texting law in Arizona. It's an idea that has gained momentum around the country. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website notes that:

• Seven states and the District of Columbia have banned the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.

• Twenty-one states ban the use of cell phones by novice drivers while driving.

• Eighteen states and the District of Columbia ban texting for all drivers.

The American Automobile Association announced Friday it will campaign nationwide for bans on text messaging in all states by 2013.

We all need to take the issue of cell phones in our cars more seriously. People just speaking on hand-held cell phones are bad enough. It's not unusual to see local law enforcement officers talking on cell phones.

But texting is insane. If and when we have a law banning cell phone use while driving, most texters will pay the death penalty before they ever face a jury of their peers. But if legislation acts as a deterrent, it could save the Stacey Stubbs' along with the Ashley Millers.

Rational states don't need any stronger evidence of the need for banning all but the use of hands-free cell phones while driving than the many tragedies that already have occurred - not only on the highway but also in train and bus crashes. From Sept. 30 through Oct. 1, the U.S. Department of Transportation plans a "Distracted Driving Summit" in Washington, D.C.

It may be asking too much, but national legislation banning all but the use of hands-free cell phones would be an excellent use of Congress' time.

Hands-free devices are available at reasonable prices.

Until help comes from Washington or the Arizona Legislature, the rest of us should use some common sense.

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