Bill banning texting while driving a step closer to becoming law

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By Alicia Barron By Alicia Barron

PHOENIX -- A bill that bans texting while driving has taken one step closer to becoming law.

The bill was slated to go before a state Senate committee on Monday and the measure was unanimously passed with a 5-0 vote.

The bill, SB 1334, has the support of AAA, which calls the practice of texting while driving a serious public-health issue.

According to a AAA poll, nearly nine out of 10 Arizona residents support a ban on texting while driving.

"There's overwhelming support for this bill," said Linda Gorman of AAA Arizona. Gorman said most Arizonans rank texting while driving right behind drinking and driving in terms of danger.

A recent study found that a person who is texting while driving is 23 times more likely to be involved in a wreck.

Texting while driving is already banned in 19 states and Washington, D.C.

The bill being introduced today, which would make it illegal to write, send or read text messages while driving, still has quite a ways to go. AAA Arizona said the earliest we could see a new law banning texting while driving in Arizona is early next year.

The proposed law applies only to texting, not talking or dialing a cell phone while driving. It also would not apply to passengers in the vehicle. A motorist would have to pay $50 if caught texting while driving. That fine jumps to $200 if he or she got into an accident while texting.

AAA said it eventually hopes to have laws banning texting while driving in every state in the country.

The bill now goes before the full Senate.