SVPD urges drivers to heed new hands-free law

Adam Curtis Police Press Releases, Public Affairs Press Releases

When local drivers are caught holding a cell phone or other electronic device while on the road, they can expect to be pulled over.

Instead of a citation, drivers will receive a warning and information about the state’s new hands-free law prohibiting in-hand use of electronic devices while driving. The law went into effect after being signed by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday, April 22, and immediately made using devices like cell phones in-hand while driving a primary offense. This means it gives officers cause to pull drivers over, even though citations and penalties take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

“We urge drivers to make the safe and responsible choice to change their behavior now,” SVPD Public Information Officer Cpl. Tim Wachtel says. “Texting or using a cell phone while driving is extremely dangerous because it takes a driver’s eyes and attention off the road. It’s one of the most common and most dangerous forms of distracted driving.”

In 2017 alone, 3,166 people were killed due to distracted driving in the United States, including 229 people between the ages of 15 and 19, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Teen drivers made up about 9 percent of distracted drivers involved in fatal crash in 2017.

SVPD and Sierra Vista Fire & Medical Services teamed up with the Buena High School Film & TV Production class to film a video highlighting the dangers of texting while driving. The video was filmed at a mock crash scene with student actors and local emergency responders acting much as they would in a real-life incident. It was shown at an assembly of Buena High School juniors and seniors last week.

To view the video, go to the “Buena Film&TV” Youtube channel.

Hands-Free Arizona Law At a Glance

Prohibits

• Holding or supporting a wireless device while driving

• Writing or reading any text-based communication while driving

• Watching, recording, or broadcasting video while driving

Exemptions

• Hands-free voice-to-text

• Stopped at a traffic light

• Reporting an emergency

HB 2318 took effect immediately; however penalties begin on January 1, 2021.