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Governor of Arizona Doug Ducey has signed a new law putting a ban on hand-held cell phones while driving.
The law prohibits operating a motor vehicle while holding or supporting with any part of the person’s body a smartphone or other portable wireless device, or writing, sending or reading any text-based communication on a wireless device unless it is voice-based and/or hands-free.
There has been an increase in car accidents due to motorists being distracted by their smartphones as the devices have become extensions of one’s self-consciousness.
The portable wireless devices include a cellular telephone, a portable telephone, a text-messaging device, a personal digital assistant, a stand-alone computer, a GPS or a substantially similar portable wireless device that is used to initiate or receive communication, information or data.
The new law also restricts one to read, write or send a text, email on their smartwatch or smartphone. However, if the device allows voice activation for these functions, it is believed to be permitted.
Arizona was only one of three states that didn’t have these kinds of restrictions and now include in the 16 states that fully ban handheld devices while driving. Missouri and Montana are the only states left in the nation that don’t have laws that restrict texting on the books.
According to a study from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, texting and driving are six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.
The law, HB 2318, signed by Gov. Ducey is actually being characterized as an emergency measure. Police officers can begin issuing warnings right now, but no citations until Jan. 1, 2021. So, one can be pulled over right now anywhere in Arizona if found having a phone in hand. The lengthy period before citations will be issued is likely to provide time to educate the public.
A police officer cannot confiscate or inspect your portable wireless device under the new law. There is technology on the view, however, called the textalyzer, that someday would enable a police officer to connect to a motorist’s smartphone and see whether they were “typing or swiping” at a particular time prior to the traffic stop or accident. This technology is currently not permitted in Arizona or elsewhere.
The state law now permits police officers to pull people over and give them warnings for any conduct that will be prohibited under the new law. At the same time, local police can still issue citations enforcing existing use of cell phone restrictions in their municipalities. Once the state law becomes enforceable in January 2021, it will supersede all local ordinances and render them void.
Ultimately, it is advisable to not to hold a phone or balance it on any part of the body and, even if it is docked or in your cup holder, don’t write, send or read text-based communications. If it is obligatory to talk on the phone, use an earpiece, answer the phone in hands-free mode from a docking station or through Bluetooth.
By Sowmya Sangam