Guest Editorial: It Can Wait

By Scottsdale Pinetop

On average, it takes five second to send or read a text message. To put that in perspective, it also takes about five seconds to travel the length of a football field while driving 55 mph. In 2017, Arizona reported 741 distracted driving related accidents according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Yet, Arizona is one of only three states that still does not have a state-law against distracted driving or ban on texting while driving. That’s insane.

While the Arizona House continues to debate Senate Bill 1141, also known as the “distracted driving” bill, many other cities are addressing the issue head on. Scottsdale, Phoenix and many other cities throughout the state have taken on the issue, many of which have passed their own ordinances on distracted driving. Last month the Scottsdale City Council, led by Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp, directed the City Manager and staff to look more in depth into the matter.

But Tempe’s actions might be the strictest by far. Last month, as part of Tempe’s Vision Zero, the City Council approved changes to the city’s distracted driving laws. Effective immediately, drivers using their phones while driving in Tempe can be issued a citation and fined up to $500.  Previously, Tempe’s ordinance required a person to be driving erratically in order to be pulled over. This is a major step-forward.

For us, this is a no-brainer. Protecting our roads is an important role of our government – from photo radar to limitations on phone use. Even for those who favor limited government and maximum personal freedom, protecting our roads is a crucial role for our government and should be taken seriously.

Unfortunately, due to the political negligence at the Arizona State Capitol, this has left the responsibility to local communities, like Tempe, to protect its streets and drivers. We commend the leaders of Tempe for stepping up as a leader and for taking the initiative to create effective change. Thank you for helping keep our roads safe.