The CS Press

No text is worth a life

Mia Brito, staff writer

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Clayton Townsend, a five year officer with the Salt River Police Department, pulled over a vehicle on the 101 for having an expired registration on January 9. A routine traffic stop turned deadly when Jerry Sanstead fatally struck Townsend because he was texting and driving and did not see officer Townsend standing near the pulled-over driver’s side door.

Texting and driving should have been banned a long time ago, however, not every state has laws or even restrictions against it. Arizona is one of those states, and it is irresponsible for the state legislature to not have a law to prevent texting and driving.

Too many families can relate to horror stories like Officer Towsend’s family, and, unfortunately, it seems like the state legislature does not care about preventing such tragedies. No text message is worth someone’s life, and Arizona’s current laws against texting and driving are too soft to make anyone fear the consequences of texting and driving.

The National Conference of State Legislatures shows that Arizona does not have a hand-held ban, a texting ban, and the state police can only enforce an all-cellphone ban against school bus drivers, learner’s permit holders, and provisional license holders during the first six months after their licensing was deemed effective. This needs to change if Arizona roads are to be made safer.

Last year in February, the Arizona state legislature introduced SB 1261. The law was suppose to push Arizona into joining the other 47 states which ban texting and driving. Data taken directly from LegiScan, a database which researches, monitors, tracks, and reports on every single bill which passes or gets denied, shows that SB 1261 could have had a great impact on drivers. It would have opened those who text and drive to legitimate prosecution and penalties instead of the lax laws the state currently has in place.

Arizona resident Cynthia Schneider, had a 16-year-old daughter who was killed in a texting and driving incident in November of 2016. Her daughter was riding a mountain bike when she was struck from behind by a woman who was speeding and on her phone. Her killer received a speeding ticket and a $1,000 fine.

It is not just the average Arizonian who do not support texting and driving bans either. Arizona is one of the only states who has rejected a texting ban for 11 consecutive years. The people of Arizona as well as our Legislature has deemed texting and driving bans as “too instrusive” and “the state’s generic traffic laws can be used to site distracted drivers.”

If this were true, then, in turn, accident rates would surely drop, but looking at traffic reports and statistics, 25% of fatal car crahses are due to “distracted drivers,” and the numbers will only continue to increase.

This type of inaction is inexcusable. If people who kill others because they were texting and driving get off without severe consequences, the state is becoming complicit in the loss of innocent lives. Instead of being so soft on texting and driving, legislature should enact state-wide laws supporting a full ban on texting and driving in order to make Arizona roads safer.

 

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The Voice of Cactus Shadows High School
No text is worth a life