By Law Enforcement Division, DESMay 8, 2017
Fort Huachuca, Arizona - While there is no blanket handheld cell phone ban for Arizona drivers, Fort Huachuca Regulation 190-5 Vehicle Distractions prohibits drivers on a DOD installation and operators of government owned vehicles from using cell phones unless the vehicle is safely parked or the operator is using a hands-free device.
Some cities and counties within the state may have their own laws and regulations, but the following exceptions apply across all jurisdictions:
- School bus drivers are not permitted to use a cell phone while driving.
- Drivers may receive a citation for distracted driving if they are seen swerving or demonstrating other erratic behavior due to cell phone use.
Major Arizona cities such as Phoenix, Tempe and Tucson have also adopted additional texting laws, prohibiting drivers from sending and reading texts while operating a motor vehicle.
A new Tucson ordinance went into effect May 1, with a pending state law that makes it against the law for new drivers to text statewide.
As of May 1, even handling a phone while driving can result a ticket in Tucson, and a new state law will make it illegal for new drivers to text statewide.
The City of Tucson's new hands-free ordinance is in effect and state lawmakers just passed a rule that applies anywhere to keep teens from texting behind the wheel.
Arizona lawmakers approved the state's first ban on texting while driving, limiting it to beginning drivers for the first six months they have a driver's license.
Senate Bill 1080 passed the Arizona House of Representatives on a 32-24 vote. It now goes to Governor Doug Ducey for his consideration. If he signs it, it would not take effect until July 1, 2018.
The bill forbids drivers under age 18 who have a Class G license from using any wireless device while they hold a learner's permit and extends it to the first six months of their license.
However, in accordance with Fort Huachuca Regulation 190-5 Vehicle Distractions, vehicle operators on a DOD installation and operators of government owned vehicles shall not use cell phones unless the vehicle is safely parked or the operator is using a hands-free device. The wearing of any other portable headphones, earphones, or other listening device (except for hands free cellular phones) while operating a motor vehicle is prohibited. The use of headphones or earphones while driving a motorcycle, moped, OHV, or bicycle on Army Installation roads and streets is prohibited. This prohibition does not apply to military police in the performance of their official duties.
"Violators will be cited under 32 CFR 634.25(c)(3) [Cell Phone use while Driving] and Soldiers who violate this regulation will be apprehended and processed under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 92 Failure to Obey a Lawful Order or Regulation," said Capt. Adrian Galindo, deputy chief of police.
"There are three main types of distractions," he explained.
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road;
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel; and
- Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving.
Distracted driving activities include things like using a cell phone, texting and eating. Using in-vehicle technologies (such as navigation systems) can also be sources of distraction. While any of these distractions can endanger the driver and others, texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distractions.
Too many drivers are ignoring their responsibilities behind the wheel, Galindo said. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,477 people were killed and an estimated 391,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015. That is a 9-percent increase in fatalities as compared to the previous year.
According to NHTSA, 10 percent of fatal crashes, 15 percent of injury crashes, and 14 percent of all police-reported motor vehicle crashes in 2015 were reported as distraction-affected crashes. Texting while driving has become an especially problematic trend among millennials. According to NHTSA, young drivers, 16 to 24 years old, have been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers since 2007.
Nine percent of all drivers, 15 to 19 years old, involved in fatal crashes were reported as being distracted at the time of the crashes in 2015. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of fatal crashes.
Handheld cellphone use while driving is highest among 16 to 24 year old drivers, but female drivers 15 to 39 years old are most at-risk for being involved in a fatal crash involving a distracted driver. Female drivers with a cell phone have been more likely to be involved in fatal distracted driving crashes as compared to male drivers every year since 2011.
Drop the double standard
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found by analyzing 2009-2012 data, while more than eight in 10 drivers believed it completely unacceptable for a motorist to text or e-mail behind the wheel, more than a third of those same respondents admitted to reading text messages while driving.
Just as disturbing, even as fatalities go up, fewer drivers seem concerned about texting while driving. According to the AAA Foundation's 2015 Traffic Safety Culture Index, significantly fewer motorists (77 percent) believed texting while driving is a problem, down from 96 percent in 2013 -- a 19-point drop in just two years. Texting while driving is more than just personally risky. When you text and drive, you become a danger to everyone around you.
Don't follow the pack
When you get behind the wheel, be an example to your family and friends by putting your phone away. In 46 States, Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; Guam; and the U.S. Virgin Islands, texting while driving is an illegal, citable offense.
If your friends text while driving, tell them to stop. Listen to your passengers; if they catch you texting while driving, and tell you to put your phone away, put it down.
No one likes to be called out by a friend for doing something wrong, but it's even worse to get caught by law enforcement and end up paying a fine. Remember, when you get behind the wheel, put your phone away.
Texting while driving is dangerous, and getting caught can be expensive and embarrassing. Save face, your money and maybe save a life -- your text message can wait. Remember: U Drive. U Text. U Pay.