6 things you might not know about the Tempe anti-texting drive ordinance

Here are a few things to know about the ordinance that will be implemented Oct. 24.

Using a cell phone or other mobile electronic device that impairs driving will be prohibited according to a Sept. 24 vote by the Tempe City Council. 

Here are a few facts to know about this ordinance and the issue of texting while driving:

1. The ordinance does not prohibit texting while driving entirely

Tempe Chief of Staff Elizabeth Higgins clarified the exceptions of the ordinance.

"This ordinance does not prohibit texting while driving entirely," Higgins said. "Instead, it makes it an offense for any person to operate a motor vehicle while using a cell phone or other mobile electronic device if such driving constitutes a risk to that person or others (i.e., swerving within own lane, delayed braking)."

2. The ordinance will go into effect on Oct. 24

The ordinance was voted to become law 30 days after the day it passed the council.

3. Violators will be fined and charged up to $500

Drivers who violate the ordinance will be fined $100 their first time, $250 the second time and $500 for additional offenses within 24 months. Violating this ordinance is a Class One misdemeanor. 

4. Hands-free devices are allowed

The ordinance does not prohibit the use of Bluetooth or hands-free electronic devices as long as the driver keeps both hands on the wheel.

5. There are exceptions to this ordinance

This ordinance applies to all drivers in Tempe but there are exceptions. The ordinance does not apply to emergency responders using electronic devices on the job, to those reporting a medical emergency and several others, which are listed below.

6. 46 out of 50 states have distracted driving laws — Arizona does not 

Although the City of Phoenix has adopted a texting while driving ban, there is no statewide ban. 

Councilman Kolby Granville said the reason a law like this has not been implemented before is simply because there were not votes for it. He added that members on the Council did not want to pass the law as a city-only law. Granville said he hopes the law affects driving habits of those in Tempe.

"I think many people think: 'I text while driving, and I'm safe while I'm doing it,'" Granville said. "However, people think that same thing about driving drunk — that doesn't mean they are right, it just means they have been lucky."

Global health and biological studies major Patrick Murphy said he agrees with the ordinance and said he believes the ordinance, once implemented, will change driving habits.

"What is so important that it can't wait until you're not driving?" Murphy said. "I'm fine with it because I don't really drive. When I do, I don't text, and it will make it safer for when I'm long boarding around Tempe."

Related Links:

Lawmakers consider banning texting while driving

No text message is worth taking a life


Reach the reporter at anicla@asu.edu or follow @AndrewNiclaASU on Twitter

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