Texting Bans Impractical, Says Arizona Official

Sep 25, 2009

There’s been a lot of talklately about the dangers of distracted driving, most notably thedisturbing trend in accidents caused by text messaging behind thewheel.  Legislation is being passed to make the penalty for textingwhile driving steeper, but one Arizona highway safety official doubtsthat the stricter laws will provide a real solution to the problem.

“Texting and driving is a horrendous practice,” said Alberto Gutier, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “But we also need to look at the whole issue. It’s not text messaging only; it’s all distracted driving.”

Gutier said that the city of Phoenixhas only issued a handful of tickets since issuing a citywide ban ontexting while driving in 2007.  “I’ll support anything that saveslives, but it’s almost impossible to enforce and even less easy to prove,” he said.

The Arizona state legislate rejected a bill earlier this year thatwould have fined drivers 50 dollars for texting or talking on a mobilephone without the use of a hands-free device.  If involved in anaccident, the fine would rise to 200 dollars.

“People do dumb things while driving,” Gutier told Cronkite News Service.“A national, local and state media campaign on the dangers of textingor using the phone is as important as a law on the books.”

Make sure that your drivers know the dangers of texting and driving,and promote the use of hands-free devices while talking on a cell phone.