Bill would ban cell phone use by novice teen drivers

(this article relates to bills introduced in the 50th Second Regular Session of the Arizona Legislature, spring of 2012)

Here’s a news item that has a pretty good rundown on SB1056, introduced by John McComish (R-20, which happens to be my district).

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the NTSB has called for a total ban on use of portable electronic communications by drivers — thats text, talk, handsfree or not — the whole shootin’ match.

This bill is a total ban; but targets only permitees and new drivers under 18 (but only for six months); which seems like a pretty logical place to start. The youngest drivers don’t have the experience and also tend not to understand the consequences of their actions that only comes with maturity and experience. When questioned about difficulty of enforcement, McComish pointed out that it is a secondary offense, like seat-belt laws, and that it will give parents a useful tool.

In case you’re wondering how this affects bicycle riders; it doesn’t. The licensing statutes are in Chapter 8, and bicyclists are only bound to follow Chapter 3, 4, and 5, see 28-812.

The hearing in front of the senate Public Safety and Human Services committee 1/18/2012 (direct link, does that work?) was very good; it’s near the end, and is about 10 minutes. This bill is something of a follow-on to some graduated driver’s license restrictions (the Teen Driver Safety Act, enacted in 2007.  Bill number?). Stuart Goodman spoke in favor on behalf of AAA; i would like to quote him, and i might be in the minutes(?) but in sortof paraphrase he said that according to CDC the number one cause of death for teens is traffic collisions; that the graduated license restrictions were good/helpful and there is evidence that as from 198?-2007 as alcohol-involved teen deaths have decreased,  the overall rate of teen fatalities has remained largely unchanged… and that is largely attributed to an increase in distracted driving as becoming the primary culprit. He then rattled off a bunch of age-related stats that seemd to indicate teen deaths are way down (due presumably to graduated license restrictions, like nighttime driving, and limiting the number of passengers for novice drivers). It passed unanimously out of committee. Also of note, Representative Vic Williams (R-26) , chair of House Transportation Committee, is a co-sponsor indicating if the bill makes it to the House, it would probably have an easy time getting through committee.

Here are the new sections, as introduced:

28-3154

C. A PERMITTEE SHALL NOT DRIVE A MOTOR VEHICLE WHILE USING A WIRELESS COMMUNICATION DEVICE FOR ANY REASON EXCEPT DURING AN EMERGENCY IN WHICH STOPPING THE MOTOR VEHICLE IS IMPOSSIBLE OR WILL CREATE AN ADDITIONAL EMERGENCY OR SAFETY HAZARD. A PEACE OFFICER SHALL NOT STOP OR ISSUE A CITATION TO A PERSON OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE ON A HIGHWAY IN THIS STATE FOR A VIOLATION OF THIS SUBSECTION UNLESS THE PEACE OFFICER HAS REASONABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE THERE IS ANOTHER ALLEGED VIOLATION OF A MOTOR VEHICLE LAW OF THIS STATE.

28-3174

F. EXCEPT AS PROVIDED IN SUBSECTION K OF THIS SECTION, FOR THE FIRST SIX MONTHS THAT A CLASS G LICENSEE HOLDS THE LICENSE, THE LICENSEE SHALL NOT DRIVE A MOTOR VEHICLE WHILE USING A WIRELESS COMMUNICATION DEVICE FOR ANY REASON EXCEPT DURING AN EMERGENCY IN WHICH STOPPING THE MOTOR VEHICLE IS IMPOSSIBLE OR WILL CREATE AN ADDITIONAL EMERGENCY OR SAFETY HAZARD.

There’s also a recurring generic texting ban bill that has once again been introduced by Steve Farley (D-28), HB2321 texting while driving; prohibition. I’m not sure if it is significant or not, but it’s worth mentioning that this go-round, Vic Williams (R-26) , chair of House Transportation Committee, is a co-sponsor.