Surprise approves distracted driving ban

(Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

The City of Surprise is the latest Valley municipality to approve a measure to curb distracted driving.

The city council unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday night to ban cell phone use behind the while unless the driver is using a hands-free function.

[RELATED: AZ legislature OKs texting while driving ban for teens]

The ordinance goes into effect in 30 days and drivers violating the ordinance face a fine of up to $250.

City Councilman Skip Hall says the ordinance adds to the city’s Drive Wise campaign to cut crashes.

[RELATED: DPS issued more than 4,000 distracted driving tickets last year]

“The arc of the increase in accidents was going from six percent three years ago then it went eight percent, then it went up to ten percent in accidents,” said Hall. “This last year since we had the Drive Wise program we've actually had a decrease by one percent.”

Cities and towns across Arizona have enacted similar bans even as the state legislature has failed to pass a law to prevent distracted driving. Arizona and Montana are the only states in the country that do not have distracted driving laws.

[RELATED: Statewide driving and texting ban bill clears first hurdle]

“People understand it's an addiction and it's powerful,” said State Sen. Steve Farley. The gubernatorial candidate has pushed for texting and distracted driving bans since 2007. Most recently he got a measure to clear a Senate committee, but it died in the House.

“I’m grateful that these municipalities and counties are taking matters into their own hands but it should be a statewide ban,” said Farley.

In April, Fountain Hills approved an emergency texting ban after a driver jumped a curb and killed four people walking by a park. Sheriff’s deputies said the driver was not impaired. He was charged with manslaughter.

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