Hodgepodge of cell phone laws confusing

Published: Dec. 8, 2016 at 10:41 PM MST|Updated: Dec. 9, 2016 at 1:14 AM MST
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ORO VALLEY, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Now that Oro Valley's Town Council has passed the strictest "hands free" ordinance in the state, some are saying the state needs to finally act to make things uniform.

Tucson has a hodgepodge of cell phone laws which will lead to confusion among area drivers.

Tucson has a texting-while-driving ban but it can only be enforced if a driver is stopped for another offense.

Pima County allows officers to stop people if they believe they're texting or using a hands-free device.

Now, Oro Valley police can stop drivers if they are using a device that is not hands free.

The potential for confusion is high as you drive North on Oracle Road.

After leaving the Tucson Mall, Tucson's texting ban is the "law of the land."

Crossing River Road means Pima County's ordinance kicks in.

Just south of McGee Road, Oro Valley's new ordinance goes into effect.

Three miles. Three jurisdictions. Three laws.

It's thought Tucson and Pima County will soon follow Oro Valley's lead.

All three, and other jurisdictions, have been meeting to work on a uniform ordinance but it was thought Oro Valley would carry more weight with the Arizona State Legislature which has failed to pass a texting ban for a decade, only one of two states to do so.

"A state statute, so it's consistent throughout the state, is the best way to go," says Daniel Sharp, the Interim City Manager for Oro Valley. "A hodgepodge is not in the best interest of the motoring public."

Steve Farley, a Tucson Democratic State Senator, was one of the first in the country to introduce a texting ban but after 10 tries it's never happened.

Now, with Oro Valley leading the way, and a change in state leadership, he may get his wish.

"I was going to introduce texting but now there may be a chance to go hands free," he said.

Under the Oro Valley ordinance, which takes effect in a month, holding a device is a violation and can lead to a $50 fine.

"This is a public safety issue," Sharp said. "It has nothing to do with punitive, nothing to do with revenue generation, this had to do with making the roads safe."

"Driving is a full time task," traffic safety professional Mark Grushka said. "The most important thing you can do is actually, just drive."

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