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PV police: 35 distracted driving citations
Local departments tell drivers to put down cellphones

Prescott Valley Public Works crews place a sign in January to remind drivers of the new ban on use of handheld devices while driving. (Town of Prescott Valley/Courtesy)

Prescott Valley Public Works crews place a sign in January to remind drivers of the new ban on use of handheld devices while driving. (Town of Prescott Valley/Courtesy)

It happened first in unincorporated areas of Yavapai County, then in Chino Valley, Dewey-Humboldt, Prescott and Prescott Valley.

And Arizona legislators continue to mull a statewide ban against using hand-held communications devices while driving.

All local municipalities conducted an “education period” immediately after their ordinances went into effect, giving warnings. All now are issuing citations to violators of the law.

Like the other law enforcement agencies, Prescott Valley Police officers handed out warnings to motorists in an effort to educate the public to the new laws. Beginning in March, however, the department started issuing tickets for any violation of this new law. In the first three weeks, officers issued more than 35 citations.

The recent ordinance has had no effect on Fred Williams’ driving habits. He hails from New York where the state has had a ban on hand-held cellphone use while driving since 2001.

“My wife has her phone connected to the car,” Williams, a five-year resident of Prescott Valley, said Monday, April 8. “Mine, I just don’t answer it until I pull over.”

Prescott Valley Police Department is urging motorists to put down their cellphones and other electronic devices and focus on safe driving, said Rachel Montague, PVPD Public Information officer, in a news release dated April 5.

“The Hands-Free ordinance will continue to be strictly enforced in an effort to reduce the number of injuries and deaths related to distracted driving in Prescott Valley,” Montague added.

Dave Fuller, Public Information officer for Prescott Police Department, reports that officers issued 13 citations between Jan. 10 and March 26.

Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, whose ordinance went into effect Nov. 2, has issued 24 citations since mid-December, said Dwight D’Evelyn, YCSO Public Affairs supervisor.

Chino Valley Civilian Operations Supervisor Laurie Whisenand checked citation numbers for the first quarter of 2019, Jan. 1 to March 31, and found officers had issued four citations. Prior to that, during the “education period,” officers wrote nine warnings.

Handheld devices are not the only cause of distracted driving; those also include eating, holding pets on laps, reaching for items on the floor, and adjusting the stereo.

Donna Floyd, a Prescott Valley resident of five or six years, acknowledged the town needed to do something.

“It’s about time. People keep talking on them and talking on them; they just do it anyway,” Floyd said Monday. “We need to do everything we can to be safe.”

That is what officers advise, too.

“Be safe, be smart and avoid a tragedy. When behind the wheel, simply focus on safe driving,” Montague stated.

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