Driving while distracted is already a violation of many local and state laws throughout Arizona but in recent years, many have argued that as written, the law is not specific enough to give police the authority to crack down on negligent behavior. In recent years, many lawmakers and public officials have pushed for laws that specifically ban texting while driving, one of the most dangerous and widespread behaviors to emerge in recent years.
Texting while driving requires a driver to take his or her hands off the wheel to operate a cell phone as well as taking his or her eyes off the road to look at the phone’s screen. Studies have shown that texting while driving is just as dangerous if not more so than driving while under the influence of alcohol, yet to many drivers, the dangers associated with texting behind the wheel do not seem real.
The National Safety Council estimates that 1.3 million accidents every year are the result of texting while driving. The average text message requires a driver to look away from the road for 4.6 seconds which is approximately the length of a football field if the driver is traveling at 55 miles per hour. A lot can happen in 4.6 seconds and a driver who is not paying attention to the road and to traffic may cause a collision. In fact, research has shown that texting drivers are 23 times more likely to cause a collision than those who are not texting.
With so much research now highlighting the dangers of texting while driving, a new push is being made to specifically outlaw the practice in Arizona. State representative Victoria Steele of Tucson is the latest to propose new legislation on the matter. Her motivation for the proposed change in law was the accident last year between a distracted truck driver and a Department of Public Safety officer that left the officer dead. The semi truck driver is believed to have been looking at photos of women on his cell phone at the time his truck struck the stopped officer’s car, leading to the officer’s death. In that case, the semi driver is facing multiple charges, including murder.
Under the proposed legislation, texting while driving would be a civil traffic violation and would carry a fine of $200. But drivers should be cautioned that other charges could be brought if a texting driver causes an accident or injures another.
When texting leaves an innocent victim hurt or injured, it is that victim’s right to seek appropriate compensation for damages against the responsible driver. Speaking with an injury lawyer, like those at Abels & Annes, P.C., is the best way to learn about what legal rights are available to you after your accident. Our legal team is standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year at (855) PHX-LAWYER or locally at (602) 819-5191 to take your call. Call us today and let us help you get the relief you deserve.
Prior Blog Entry:
Charges Brought Against Suspect Driver for Fatal Crash with Pedestrian, Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog, published January 21, 2014.
Arizona lawmaker proposes statewide ban on texting while driving, Fox 10 News Staff, published January 21, 2014.