Pima County Bd. of Supervisors in a unanimous vote (5-0) today passed an ordinance to ban texting while driving a motor vehicle, effective within a month. The ban however, still allows speaking on a cell phone. Here’s what the ordinance states:
“A person may not, while driving a motor vehicle on a highway, manually manipulate a handheld electronic device for any purpose other than to initiate, receive, or engage in voice communication.”
“A person who violates this section and is not involved in a motor vehicle crash is subject to a civil penalty of one hundred dollars ($100.00), plus any other penalty assessments authorized by law. D. A person who violates this section and is involved in a motor vehicle accident is subject to a civil penalty of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00), plus any other penalty assessments authorized by law.”
Exemptions are law enforcement and emergency personnel, bus drivers, while on private property, and while the vehicle is stationary.
Several persons (mostly bicyclists) testified in favor of this proposed ordinance brought forth by the Pima County Sheriff’s Dept. Sheriff Chris Nanos spoke in favor of this proposal, as did LD 9 State Senator Steve Farley, who said he was the first to introduce this type of legislation in the Arizona House of Representatives 10 years ago. Apparently only Arizona and Montana have no state laws against texting while driving. Firefighter Brendon Lyons testified about being severely injured when hit by a “distracted driver” on Oct. 4, 2013. He showed a video of the accident and his long, painful recovery. He also brought in a mounted display of his shattered bicycle. Oro Valley Vice Mayor Lou Waters testified in favor as well, for the sake of “public safety”.
A few others testified against the ordinance saying it was “vague” and “overbroad”, esp. regarding GPS hand held devices.
One bicyclist said that his group of 15 bikers discussed it on May 7, 2016 (the day that Supervisor Ann Day was killed in a car accident) and said that 14 of them said that they had had “close calls” while bicycling.
Supervisor Ramon Valadez asked “How many lives is one too many?” and “How does the driver feel who killed someone on a bike?” He strongly urged mitigation of this problem. Supervisor Richard Elias said that “distracted driving has taken place too long”, that it was a “matter of safety”. Supervisor Ally Miller stated that she rides a bike and they needed to make the County safer. Supervisor Ray Carroll asked for a review (in 6 months) since he uses a GPS and cell phone to talk on, while driving. The Sheriff agreed to do the review, saying that perhaps they could get a grant to pay for blue tooth devices for those who couldn’t afford them. Chair Supervisor Sharon Bronson concurred with the other statements but declined to speak further since she was suffering from a bad cold.
Read the new ordinance here: https://pima.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=4438153&GUID=219D7BDD-06FA-403A-AB99-5A1A06B7E728
If you have any input on this ordinance, contact your Pima County Supervisor: http://webcms.pima.gov/government/board_of_supervisors. Four of them are up for re-election this year, except for Supervisor Carroll, who is retiring after 20 years.