Beginning today, motorists in Phoenix can be pulled over and ticketed for text messaging while driving.
The ban follows the Phoenix City Council’s ordinance that outlaws sending and receiving text messages on the road. It passed in a 7-1 vote Wednesday.
Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said he hopes this will be the start to gaining ground on a statewide ban.
The fines for the new ordinance range from $100 to $250 for the nonmoving civil traffic violation, depending on whether or not the texting caused an accident.
There is a 30-day warning period, which means drivers cannot technically receive a ticket until Oct. 20.
Researchers at the University of Utah at Salt Lake City said text messagers are six times as likely to be distracted and have an accident and their response time is 23 percent slower.
A Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. survey reports one in five drivers between the ages of 18 and 60 sends or receives messages while driving. That number jumps to 37 percent for drivers ages 18 to 27.
Law enforcement officers and paramedics will be excused from this new Phoenix law because the city said they have to be able to communicate in an emergency situation.
A similar statewide bill, introduced in January by Rep. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, never made it past a review committee. That bill would have made texting and driving a secondary offense and fines would have been less.
In her weekly news conference, Gov. Janet Napolitano would not comment about the possibility of future statewide legislation.
However, Napolitano did have a message for text messagers: “When you get behind the wheel of a car, you have a responsibility to yourself and to others to put 100 percent of your attention on the wheel.”