Tucson moves closer to texting ban

Published: Nov. 10, 2011 at 4:57 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:12 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Drivers and cyclists alike understand the importance of staying away from the phone once they're behind the wheel of a car.

"People need to be really careful while they're using the phone and especially try to avoid texting because it can be very dangerous," said Mickey Gallegos as he got into his car outside Himmel Library Wednesday night.

"There's no question while you're driving and you're texting you're distracted and it's a safety concern," said cyclist Damion Alexander.

"You need to not just have a law; you need to combine with law enforcement," said State Representative Steve Farley, (D) Tucson, in front of Tucson City Council Wednesday afternoon.

While the state does not have a ban on texting while driving, Tucson is considering one that is based on a Phoenix ordinance.  In that city, motorists can be fined $100 for texting while driving.  The fine increases to $250 if they cause an accident while doing so.

"I don't think we're trying to trap people," said council member Steve Kozachik, who introduced the proposal.  "What we're trying to do is put another tool in the police officer's tool box.  We're also just trying to build public awareness."

The council unanimously supported considering a draft law; however, the question remains whether to make the law a primary one in which a police officer can stop someone for texting while driving as the main offense.  Tucson cyclists consider the law important to the city's goal of becoming a platinum cycling community.

"I think this would be good for that effort as one of the things we're doing to make the community more bike friendly," Tom Thivener, who is with the Tucson Department of Transportation and a cyclist told the council Wednesday.

The Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee unanimously agreed to support a primary law to ban texting while driving, which could mean that the same drivers and cyclists who support it will have to behave more.

"I have been guilty of texting while driving, as I think most people who can text do and as my wife tells me not to," Alexander said.  "I try not to do it; I try and pull over."

"I try not to dial while I'm driving but sometimes I think it could be a special call and I'll answer it," Gallegos said.

The Tucson City Council expects a rough draft of the law within 30 days.

Copyright 2011 KOLD. All rights reserved.