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Arizona bill would ban typing while driving, but not all phone activity

(Pixabay Photo)

PHOENIX – An Arizona lawmaker who introduced a bill to ban typing while driving would prefer stronger restrictions on texting than what he proposed.

“I would support legislation that goes further than that. There are some bills that will go further than that that will be going through the system,” Republican Rep. John Kavanagh told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Tuesday.

“Mine is kind of a backstop bill.”

Kavanagh said he’s introduced similar legislation before, but it never made it through the Legislature.

In the wake of this month’s death of Salt River Police Officer Clayton Townsend, who was struck and killed by a distracted driver, calls for a statewide ban on texting and driving have grown louder.

“If the opposition again gets strong, hopefully at least we can get the more egregious and dangerous activity of actually typing stuff into your phone illegal,” Kavanagh said, explaining why he introduced HB 2069.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey told Mac & Gaydos on Tuesday that he would sign off on a statewide texting law if it’s “properly constructed.”

“I really want to give a friendly challenge to the Legislature to put together the right bill that will make our roads safer,” he said.

Several communities throughout Arizona have implemented a variety of distracted driver restrictions, but nothing has made it through on the state level.

“Texting has a rather interesting coalition of the left and the right against it,” said Kavanagh.

He said opposition from the right comes from conservative Republicans against what they perceive as excessive government regulation.

On the left, he said, some Democrats are concerned that unethical police officers could use the laws to target minorities.

“I think there’s a happy medium between ‘you can’t touch your phone’ and ‘you can just do whatever you want,’ and hopefully we’ll eventually get to that,” he said.

“At the very least I’d like to get rid of the most dangerous stuff, which is actually typing stuff in while you’re driving.”

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