As Chairman of Transportation for the Arizona House of Representatives, I feel compelled to weigh in on the decision from the NTSB to recommend a complete ban on PEDs (personal electrical devises) being used in the operation of a motor vehicle.
This call for action from the NTSB is too far reaching and goes beyond practical common sense. There will always be some element of risk when using our highways. To think that we will be able to eliminate any and all types of distractions while driving is not reasonable.
In 2009, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 33,963 traffic fatalities across the country of which 5,474 (15%) people were killed in vehicle crashes reported to have involved distracted driving. While drivers under the age of 20 had the greatest proportion of distracted driving incidences, of those drivers involved in fatal crashes who were reportedly distracted, the 30-to 39-year-olds had the highest proportion of cell phone involvement.
It is clear that government should take action when it comes to developing and implementing a statewide “No Texting” ban with enforcement teeth. As a Member of the Arizona House of Representatives and Chairman of its Transportation Committee, I will use the full weight of my office to move legislation forward to ensure that Arizona develops a statewide ban on texting while operating a motor vehicle.
With that being said, it is all but impossible to have this discussion without contending with the counter argument that a “No Texting” ban facilitates nanny-state government. On the contrary, it is the role of government to fund and regulate our highways. Running a safe highway system is a basic state function. Every day that the Arizona State Legislature fails to act on this issue is another day that we allow a controllable public hazard to continue to exist.
When an unsafe highway practice such as texting while driving, excessive speeding or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is statistically identified, then it is up to the state to take action. If we were to follow the logic of the nanny-state argument then the state should play no role in regulating speeding laws and driving under the influence. That logic is as unsound as the NTSB’s desire to completely ban all PEDs.
If leadership finally allows the “No Texting” bill to be moved forward in the House of Representatives you will see a tremendous outpouring of support coming from all sectors of the business community, the trucking industry and the general public. If the bill is assigned to my Transportation Committees, I promise those who oppose this measure will have a level playing field to argue their case. With that being said, I am an enthusiastic supporter of a state-wide “No Texting” ban.
Editor’s Note: Vic Williams is the Arizona State Representative for District 26, and Arizona State Representative Transportation Chairman.