According to the National Safety Council, cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes annually. Texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving under the influence of alcohol is. One out of every four traffic crashes that occur in the U.S. are caused by cell phone usage. This startling data may be one of many reasons why a new law banning the use of cellphones while driving went into effect in Surprise this month, making it the latest city to attempt regulation rather than wait for a state effort.
Surprise officials put an ordinance banning talking, texting or anything involving a handheld communication device into effect last week, the Arizona Republic reported. Police will generally issue warnings only for the first thirty days of the new law, said Surprise police Sgt. Tim Klarkowski. After that, the fines will begin. The fine is $250 on the first offense. The law prohibits talking on a cellphone, sending a text message or otherwise using a hand-held communications device while driving in the city, unless the device is in hands-free mode.
City leaders were cautious when enacting the outright ban, fearing that it could make the city a target of the state Legislature, which has been enacting local pre-emption laws on many subjects. But Surprise Mayor Sharon Wolcott said the Arizona League of Cities and Towns believed the law could be imposed.
Lawmakers have gone back and forth on cellphone bans in cars for more than a decade. Earlier this year, legislation banning drivers’ cellphone usage was shot down gained approval in the Senate but died in the House.
The lack of a state law has led to a mishmash of different ordinances across jurisdictions. Tucson, Sedona and Oro Valley currently prohibit handheld cellphone use while behind the wheel. Meanwhile, Phoenix, Flagstaff and Fountain Hills only prohibit texting while driving.
If you’d like more information about the Surprise cell phone ban, or if you’re interested in selling or buying a home in Surprise, Goodyear, Litchfield Park and the surrounding cities, please contact Lisa Bray today!
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