E.V. cities consider bans on text messaging - East Valley Tribune: News

E.V. cities consider bans on text messaging

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Posted: Monday, September 24, 2007 7:20 pm | Updated: 5:43 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Omg! 5-0 rt bhnd me. ttyl.

Translation: Oh my God! Police officer right behind me. Talk to you later.

Chronic text-messagers, now banned from driving while texting in Phoenix, may face similar scrutiny in the East Valley. An no-texting-while-driving ordinance approved in Phoenix last week has sparked leaders of other Valley cities to consider doing the same.

Phoenix’s fines range from $100 to $250. Drivers will have a warning period until Oct. 19.

Apache Junction Mayor John Insalaco said he intends to discuss the issue with other city officials this week to find out if there would be enough support to pass a similar ordinance.

“Do I go along with what Phoenix has done? You betcha’ I do,” Insalaco said, adding that he drove behind a car last week that was swerving all over the road, and he could tell the driver was sending text messages.

Insalaco said he was sure Apache Junction police also would support a ban on text messaging while driving.

“That’s the worst thing people can be doing on the highway,” he said.

Mesa has not researched the topic or added it to an agenda.

Mesa Mayor Keno Hawker said he would prefer a statewide ban, so drivers don’t have to keep track of different city ordinances.

Hawker said he has seen all kinds of behaviors — some far worse than text messaging.

“Should we have to close down drive-thrus so people aren’t eating sandwiches and drinking drinks?” he asked. “Or maybe you can only put on makeup while the car is stopped and not moving down the road.”

Mesa City Councilman Kyle Jones said there could be so many things to ban, but ultimately people have to take responsibility for their driving.

“You can’t legislate stupidity,” he said.

Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman also implored the Legislature to find a statewide solution.

“Crafting driving laws city by city is a bad way to go in my view,” Hallman said.

In Scottsdale, a transportation advisory board commissioner said Thursday that Scottsdale should take a stand against mixing text-messaging with driving. A second commissioner said it was a good suggestion.

Scottsdale is not studying the issue at this point and there is no plan to place the issue on an agenda for future discussion, said Jim McIntyre, a Scottsdale spokesman.

“The comment was very general in nature and we have no specific direction for doing a ban on text messaging,” McIntyre said.

Commissioner Mark Gilliland, who made the comment, could not be reached for comment Monday. He has the option of placing the issue on a future Transportation Commission agenda.

Gilbert has never considered a text messaging ordinance, and there is no talk at this time about one, said town spokesman Greg Svelund.

“It’s hard to make everything that’s stupid illegal,” said Gilbert Mayor Steve Berman.

So far, most of the response from the public has been positive, said Phoenix spokeswoman Stephanie Ribodal.

“A large response from constituents say people shouldn’t be using cell phones (while driving) period,” she said.

Chandler city staff hasn’t received any formal proposals from the City Council or the police department, but it expects discussion about the text-message ban in the near future, said city spokeswoman Nachie Marquez.

Phoenix City Council members already have expressed interest in banning drivers from using handheld cell phones altogether, she said.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Sept. 15 a bill prohibiting the use of handheld cell phones in moving vehicles. Hands-free devices are OK under the law.

The California law will take effect in July.

Some states have had hands-free laws for years: New York passed its hands-free law in 2001, New Jersey in 2004, Washington, D.C., in 2004 and Connecticut in 2005.

Phoenix text-messaging ban:

* prohibits the use of personal digital assistants to send or receive a written message while operating a motor vehicle.

* does not apply to law enforcement, a person reporting reckless behavior or a person in physical danger.

* $100 penalty for drivers not involved in a traffic accident

* $250 for drivers involved in a traffic accident

Tribune writers Beth Lucas, Craig Anderson, Brian Powell and Dennis Welch contributed to this report.

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