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New push for distracted driving cell phone ban expected in coming weeks

Posted at 6:24 PM, Jan 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-09 20:58:24-05

PHOENIX — While previous efforts have come to a halt at the state legislature, expect a new push to limit cell phone use behind the wheel in the coming weeks.

State Senator Kate Brophy McGee (R-District 28) told ABC15 she is working to introduce a bill that would require Arizona drivers to go hands-free.

"Too many people are getting hurt," she said. "Too many people are getting killed."

According to Brophy McGee, the bill would make the violation a primary offense, meaning officers wouldn't need to pull you over for something else first.

"I think we are at the point where everybody has reached the 'enough is enough' point," she said.

For years, lawmakers have considered bills restricting texting and driving, but they've stalled out. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, Arizona is one of three states that does not ban texting for all drivers. Arizona, though, did enact a law prohibiting new drivers, up to the age of 18, from using a cell phone behind the wheel.

In the absence of a state law, several Arizona cities have taken the issue upon themselves. Just this week, Glendale became the latest city to ban cell phones while driving.

Whether there is enough support to enact a statewide law is a question that will play out in the coming months.

While not speaking specifically to the bill Brophy McGee is working on, ABC15 did hear from a state representative who has opposed similar measures in the past.

After the death of a Salt River Police Officer Tuesday night, who was hit by a driver allegedly texting and driving, State Representative Kelly Townsend (R-District 16) issued the following statement:

"This is a tragic situation that has given a lot of us pause. Being a strong supporter of law enforcement, I want to do everything I can to ensure their safety. Having opposed a ban in the past, I am more inclined to support legislation regarding distracted driving, and will be speaking with our leadership to discuss the direction that we might go regarding a potential policy change and what that might look like."