Although it is widely accepted that texting and driving is nearly as insidious as drunk driving, only 14 states currently ban all drivers from using hand-held phones while driving. However, 46 states do ban text messaging by all drivers.
Arizona has no state-wide ban on texting and driving, except for bus operators, and is alone among the states but for Montana to outlaw texting either for all drivers or novices only. Phoenix, Tempe and Tucson, however, have enacted their own municipal bans under certain conditions. The state senate’s reluctance is based on the belief that such a law would not deter texting activity and that police still have the opportunity to pull anyone over for weaving in their lane, a possible consequence of texting.
Most states, including Arizona, keep statistics on the causes of roadway accidents. Distracted driving is one common factor in roadway accidents, and it includes cell phone use and texting. The figures on distracted driving and texting from the Arizona Department of Transportation and the National Safety Council are eye-opening:
Although it is not against the law to text and drive in most cities in Arizona, except for Phoenix, Tempe and Tucson, which impose fines of $100 for a first offense and $250 for a second, it is a question of fact whether its use while operating a car constitutes negligence.
If texting led the driver to focus on an activity that was not driving and the driver’s eyes left the roadway, leading to a collision, then a jury or judge as trier of fact could easily conclude that it was a substantial factor in causing the accident and resultant injuries. There would have to be evidence that the driver was on the phone, such as from examining cell phone records. This leads to the conclusion that the driver in the exercise of ordinary care would have noticed a hazard and avoided it, but for texting.
In any case where texting while driving is suspected of being the cause of an auto accident that resulted in injuries, retain a law firm that has handled complex issues of liability and damages. Often times, our firm will take these cases on a contingency basis, so that our attorneys are only paid from the proceeds of any settlement or jury award.