The Tucson City Council will begin discussions about a ban on texting and driving during its next study session on Wednesday.

The proposal, which was submitted by Karen Uhlich (Ward 3) and Steve Kozachik (Ward 6), seeks to make texting while diving illegal on City of Tucson streets.

Here is what the proposal says:

“A person shall not operate a motor vehicle on a street while using a personal digital assistant to send or receive a written digital message while the motor vehicle is in motion.”

It allows for several exceptions including: law enforcement and emergency personnel, people with commercial drivers licenses who are working, public transit operators, someone reporting reckless or negligent behavior and communicating with someone during an emergency.

If a person is caught violating the ban but has not caused a crash, it would be a civil penalty of at least $100. If the texting was the cause of a crash, the fine would be at least $250.

According to the memo submitted by Uhlich and Kozachik, 34 states and the District of Columbia have banned texting while driving, but the Arizona State Legislature has failed to follow suit despite several attempts to do so starting in 2004.

In 2007, Phoenix instituted their own ban on texting while driving. As late as last year, the state legislature would not pass a ban on texting, which prompted officials to work on a local ban.

The memo states that the Tucson Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee supports the ban, but BAC chair Ian Johnson said the committee hasn’t taken a formal position and will discuss the issue at its meeting on Wednesday evening.

Some skepticism remains as to whether a texting ban will actually reduce distracted driving. Arguments have been made that people who want to text while driving will likely just make more of an effort to hide what they are doing, making it more likely they will pay less attention to the road.

A study last year by the Highway Loss Data Institute concluded that texting bans did not lower crashes when compared to surrounding states that did not have texting bans.

Enforcing the bans is another challenge.

What do you think? Should the city ban texting while driving and will it work?

10 thoughts on “City council to discuss texting ban”
  1. Thanks for the link, Ann. I don’t think anyone is arguing that texting doesn’t causes crashes.

    What they are arguing is that the bans don’t work because they don’t actually stop people from texting. Instead, people try to hide their activity more.

  2. The 3-4 out of ten drivers on my little residential street who think the steering wheel is an option are unnerving. If this is a major problem, then I’m for a steeper penalty.
    There are a lot of students walking on campus in a digital fog. Can the day be far behind when technology affords car occupants to be equally disengaged?
    As a cyclist, the cubicle-ization of public spaces is sad.

  3. Easy way to fix this is for the cell phone companies to not receive text messages when the phone sending the message is moving .. Not that hard to implement, especially, when phone locations are constantly being updated and logged.   Of course, they’ll never do it because their business model of making money comes before lives.

  4. I don’t think the argument that bans don’t work because they don’t stop texting or that they don’t work because either there aren’t enough police to enforce ’em or the police don’t enforce ’em………those arguments are no justification for not passing legislation against texting.

    Such legislation makes a big difference if you’re someone injured by someone acting illegally and you’re headed to civil court or engaged in settlement talks beforehand.  Likewise, without such legislation there is less recourse to the law if you end up on the wrong end of a texting driver.

    Should we not make murder illegal since not every murder is caught?

  5. Is there some sort of Distracted Driver law on the books now? Y’know, like DUI law?

    And does anyone remember the Martha Grinder case? She was jogging on the far east side with a baby in a racing stroller. Guy changing CDs ran right into them and left the scene. Martha Grinder died and the baby was seriously injured.

    ISTR that the perp, once he turned himself in, was looking at some pretty serious jail time.

  6. Note the sly or dumb

    ARS 28-963. Image display device; prohibition; exceptions; definition 

    Given the apparent underlying intent, reduce distracted driving, the bill should have been kicked back to the legislature because it neglects texting. Perhaps it was a different era and perhaps there was a failure to think ahead regarding the proliferation of technology (no surprise in AZ). Or perhaps there was such a torrid love affair with GPS and the auto industry in a touristy state that they all “forgot.”

    Red Star supports the proposal before city council and doubts TPD can pay attention to it should it pass.

  7. Ah, but it will be argued that the distracted driver law doesn’t apply to texting or even talking on the cell phone (almost as bad) by some attorneys, and it will done successfully.  Having legislation that points directly at texting (or cell phone use in general) cannot hurt.  The fact that cell phone use and texting are becoming de facto accepted behavior by society signifies that there is perhaps need for specific legislation on those topics.

  8. Legislation more than a city ordinance? After this ‘dust up’, is it nudge,nudge,wink,wink and back to car is king?

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