Recently, Tucson City Council members Steve Kozachik and Karin Uhlich proposed banning texting while driving in town limits. If passed, Tucson drivers who deem it OK to multi-task by driving and sending that all-to-important text could be fined hundreds of dollars at a time.

While the Tucson City Council has a lot of issues to deal with from budget shortfalls, to Rio Nuevo, to dealing with city workers stealing from downtown parking meters, passing the “no texting” ordinance is a no brainer.

Last year, the Arizona Legislature had the opportunity to make it a statewide ban to text and drive. However, some lawmakers voted against the measure, with District 30 Sen. Frank Antenori saying the state just doesn’t need another law on the books. To Antenori’s credit, he did provide texters with good LOL material with that reasoning.

 Really, we don’t need a law that could potentially save lives and keep people safe on the books?

Studies have shown that texting while driving can be just as deadly as drinking while drinking. Driving while distracted in any form is dangerous, and eliminating at least one of those is a good idea. If councils in Oro Valley and Marana are smart, they will follow the City of Tucson’s lead on this particular issue.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has set the criteria to define distracted while driving. By the government’s own definition, a person is distracted while driving visually when a driver takes their eyes off the road. A driver is distracted manually by taking their hands off the wheel. A driver is distracted cognitively when they take their mind off driving.  To text, a driver is distracted visually, manually and cognitively.

With a law on the books, and the threat of hundreds of dollars in fines, parents are going to be less likely to answer a coworker, to address a child asking questions from home, or will delay sending that important quick text. That, in turn, would start the texting tradition of leading by example. Kids will no longer see the adults doing it, and the younger generation who seem to be joined at the hip with a cell phone will think twice before shooting off that OMG text of the day to a friend.

And, if leading by example isn’t good enough for the younger generation, a parent taking away driving and phone privileges until the fine is paid off will make a clear statement that maybe texting while driving isn’t such a good idea.

But, even if no laws are passed by the state or local councils to officially ban texting while driving, many of us should just make a more conscious effort not to do it. Take a look around at the stoplight this evening, look at the cars next to you on Interstate 10. It is shocking how many people are sitting there texting.

Texting is a luxury that should be enjoyed in places other than the driver’s seat of a car.

— Thelma Grimes

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