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Fri, May 24

Editorial: Legislators ignore texting driver threat

All previous attempts in Arizona to ban hand-held phone calls or texting while driving have died in recent years, despite the fact that people themselves are dying in vehicle accidents attributed to these technological marvels.

For the record, Stacey Stubbs of Chino Valley was one of the first in our state to die this way. In 2007, when she was driving her PT Cruiser on Loop 101 in Peoria, a Ford Ranger pickup struck her head-on. The impact killed her and the driver of the Ranger, a 19-year-old Glendale woman whom police believe was texting on a cellphone just before the crash.

Sadly, Rep. Karen Fann's 2014 bill, HB2359, to ban teens from texting while driving in the first six months of having their license - when they are least experienced behind the wheel - may join the other legislation on this topic.

What will it take for lawmakers or legislative leadership to understand the need? Distracted driving is a growing and serious threat, and it is time to curb the use of cell phones while driving, particularly their apps, email and texting.

State leadership may be asking the question of whether the threat is as severe as portrayed. Fine, get to the bottom of this question before signing on.

However, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association, how is it 42 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands have already banned texting while driving in some way, shape or form?

What do they know that our lawmakers do not?

Statistics of people, such as Ms. Stubbs, dying should be disturbing for everyone. Other data adds to this: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a huge opponent of cellphone use while driving, says 21 percent of 15- to 19-year-old drivers killed because of distracted driving in 2012 were using phones.

Clearly, many other distractions - from eating and grooming to adjusting the radio - exist; still, instead of asking does someone have to die, now we ask: How many more people have to die before we outlaw this dangerous behavior?

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