Arizona needs firmer distracted driving legislation

Student must focus on the road, not their phones

There are 14 states that prohibit the use of hand-held devices while driving. Arizona is not one of them.

Arizona needs to implement more texting and driving laws to ensure the safety of the state's residents. The State of Arizona has few official laws that prohibit the usage of cellular devices while driving and should enact more widespread distracted driving enforcements.

Arizona has approved a law prohibiting texting while driving for new drivers in their first six months of having a driver's license. The state has also banned school bus drivers from using cellular devices in addition to enacting a ban on texting while driving through Salt River Pima-Maricopa reservation land

Additionally, citywide ordinances in cities including Phoenix, Tempe and Tucson ban texting while driving within city boundaries.

“Different municipalities have anti-texting laws that prohibit texting while driving, but the state doesn't have a current law that prohibits texting and driving," Lora Koretz, clinical assistant professor at ASU's W. P. Carey School of Business, said.

Despite these efforts, Arizona still lacks statewide legislation that could potentially put an end to distracted driving.

College students are especially susceptible to distracted driving, as more than 75 percent of them do so, according to a study conducted in by King's College. 

Anika Gill, a freshman majoring in supply chain management at ASU, said that “Arizona should definitely enforce more laws to put an end to texting and driving – a text is never worth a life.”

In the world of instant notifications, it is easy to become distracted by a incoming email, phone call, text or news update; however, it is necessary that drivers do not fall into the trap of distracted driving.

According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation for 2015, in the U.S., about 542,000 vehicles were being used by individuals who use handheld devices while driving at "a typical daylight moment." The largest demographic that use cell phones while driving fall between the ages of 16 and 24.

It may be hard to enact legislation that fully prohibits texting and driving, as dealing with the legal system can take time, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't happen. 

A law that makes it illegal to use hand-held devices while driving while keeping hands-free devices legal is one realistic option that could lessen distracted driving. 

"Arizona should have better laws against distracted driving," Koretz said. "I'm noticing that we have more people coming in and there are different types of drivers on the road, some who are faster and some who are slower, who make it harder to travel from place to place."

There are various organizations that invite college students and teenagers to pledge to never text and drive, including the It Can Wait campaign. 

It is imperative that students put into perspective the risks that accompany distracted driving and remember that a text can wait. 

Reach the columnist at or follow @ninalplunkett on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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