By Sergeant Kameron Lee,
Arizona Department of Public Safety
Ninety four percent of crashes the Arizona Department of Public Safety (Arizona DPS) investigates are due to driver error, meaning 94% of the crashes are completely avoidable. Distraction remains a common theme in many of the crashes we respond to.
Beginning this month, Arizona DPS will enforce the law signed last year that says it is “Illegal in Arizona to talk or text on a cellphone while driving unless the device is in a hands-free mode.” This law prohibits drivers from using a cellphone or a stand-alone electronic device while driving unless it is being used in a hands-free mode. This includes, but is not limited to, cell phones, tablets, music and gaming devices. A “stand-alone electronic device” is a portable device other than a portable wireless communication device that stores audio or video data files to be retrieved on demand by a user.
We want people to think of the consequences of distracted driving now, not after a crash has happened. If someone is hurt, or worse, loses their life because you chose to look at a text, scroll social media or even looked down to follow the GPS on your phone, the consequences can be life altering and life changing.
The hardest part of a trooper’s job is knocking on the door of a home and telling the people living there that their family member isn’t coming home. We are asking for voluntary compliance of the hands-free law. In our day and age, we have the technology that allows us to safely operate our vehicles without phones or other electronics in our hands. That one text or that one phone call isn’t worth it.
This is more than a text and driving ban.
You cannot hold your phone or any portable electronic communication device in your hand while driving–you don’t have to be texting to be in violation.
Three instances where you can use your phone include:
- Using GPS navigation while the phone is docked.
- Talking on the phone via Bluetooth or other hands-free devices.
- Calling 9-1-1.
What you cannot do:
- Holding your phone to make or answer a call (except a 9-1-1 call).
- Read or send text messages, emails, etc.
- Hold or support the device with your body.
Learn more at azdps.gov/handsfree.