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Sat, Nov. 16

Editorial: Overdue legislation finally lands in Arizona

The Arizona Legislature is considering a ban on texting while driving, and the story is all too familiar. The concern, in part, stems from an accident on Aug. 13, 2007.

That day Stacey Stubbs of Chino Valley was driving her PT Cruiser in Peoria when suddenly a Ford Ranger pickup truck struck her car head-on. The crash killed Stubbs 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.

While no one deserves to die, 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 was a blogger 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. Many cities have enacted restrictions on cell phone use, including Chicago, Detroit, Santa Fe, Brooklyn and Cheyenne.

• Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have banned all cell phone use while driving a school bus.

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

Unfortunately, Arizona is not among them.

This week an Arizona Senate panel advanced a measure to prohibit texting while driving. Committee members voted 5-0 on Monday sending it to the full Senate after a legal review.

It would prohibit writing, reading or sending text messages and e-mails while driving on a state highway. It does not prohibit talking on the phone while driving and allows drivers to type a name or telephone number to make a call. But, it's a start.

Violators would face a $50 fine. If they are involved in an accident, the fine would be $200.

The effort will save lives. We only hope this bill fares better than the last one.

A similar measure this past year fell one vote short of passing the Senate. However, two of the Senators who voted against it have since resigned to run for Congress.

It's common sense, folks. While driving you are supposed to be doing only one thing - and that does not include distractions, such as a cell phone.

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