Report Gives Arizona Worst Rating for Protective Traffic Safety Laws

A recent report indicates that Arizona lacks certain highway safety laws, including a ban on texting, that could help prevent unnecessary accidents.

Traffic laws play a crucial rule in encouraging safer driving behaviors. Strict laws also give motorists immediate incentive to avoid negligent behaviors such as drunk driving, driving under the influence of other drugs, speeding, road rage, to and many types of distracted driving. Too many people in Phoenix are of the opinion that Arizona's existing traffic laws may seem stringent enough to improve roadway safety. However, a recent report suggests that the state's current laws may leave drivers in needless danger.

Important Safety Laws Lacking

The Arizona Republic reported that the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety recently rated all states on their highway safety laws. The organization then identified 15 key safety laws, and issued a report ranking states based on how many of those laws drivers observed. According to the report, Arizona follows less than half of the 15 identified laws. The report also listed the following recommended changes to increase driver safety:

  • A ban on texting that applies to more drivers
  • More graduated licensing laws for teenage drivers
  • Primary driver and passenger seatbelt laws
  • Mandatory motorcyclist helmet laws

Arizona was one of eight states to receive the worst rating in the safety laws report. Arizona is one of five states which observes only five of the identified key safety laws. South Dakota is the only state which has enacted fewer of these laws.

Data from the Arizona Department of Public Safety indicates that the current absence of a texting ban may well put Arizona drivers at increased risk. Additional Data from the Arizona DPS confirms distracted driving played a role in 2,400 collisions in the state during the first 8.5 months of 2014. Cellphone use was pinpointed as contributing to 167 of these 2,400 auto accident crashes. The actual number of cellphone-related crashes could be higher, given that identifying the nature of a driver's distraction can be difficult which, therefore, might possibly result in under-reporting.

Strengthening Arizona's Texting Law

Arizona lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would ban texting, which is one change identified and recommended in the report. At present, school bus drivers are the only persons in Arizona prohibited by law from texting while driving. According to The Arizona Republic, the new bill being contemplated by Arizona lawmakers would establish a more comprehensive ban on texting while driving.

The Arizona Republic has reported that a Senate committee has passed a revised version of the bill. The updated bill explicitly bans drivers from sending texts while still allowing them to read or receive texts. Unfortunately, if past years are any indication of the future, this bill may ultimately fail to pass. Since 2007, state lawmakers have tried to ban driver's sending text messages while behind the wheel operating a motor vehicle without any success.

Recourse for Negligent Accidents

In the future, the legal changes suggested in the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety report could help improve roadway safety for Arizona drivers. At present, drivers who have been injured in accidents involving reckless - but legal - behaviors may still have recourse options. A driver who fails to show reasonable care to other motorists and causes an accident may still be considered to be negligent and found liable for such negligence. Anyone suffering injury as a result of another driver's careless and negligent behavior should consider consulting with an attorney to evaluate any legal remedies possibly available as a consequence of their injury and loss.

Keywords: texting, distracted, driving, accident