By Ákos Kovach
To date there are only 9 municipalities and 2 counties in Arizona that have established a local distracted driving ordinance. Clifton is one of those towns. Each one of these municipalities and counties is to be applauded.
While there are those who want to take a ‘wait and see’ posture we continue to be hopeful that by bringing together law enforcement and elected officials from Cochise, Graham and Greenlee Counties the first steps towards beginning the conversation and starting the process of making Southeastern Arizona a safe driving haven has begun.
First, on August 16th a very important and highly publicized Public AWARENESS, & EDUCATION Road Show was conducted at four stops in Southeastern Arizona.
Leading the tour was Danny Sharp, Chief of the Oro Valley PD, and Brendan Lyons, Executive Director- LOOK! Save A Life the following Distracted Driving / Save-A-Life
The Road Show took place on Thursday Aug 16 and the first stop at the Benson Visitor Center was wonderfully covered by Tucson Ch 4 Multimedia reported Kendra Hall, KGUN 9 Reported Craig Smith, and Chris Dabovich editor of the San Pedro Valley News-Sun.
The second stop was in Willcox in the City Council Chambers, also covered by Ch 9 and well attended by elected officials such as Cochise County Supervisor and Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Peggy Judd.
The thirst stop was in Safford again well attended , by both public and private sector participants as well as Publisher Dan Curtis with the Gila Valley Central.
The final stop was in Clifton and Police Chief Omar Negrete and Sheriff Lt. Jaromy Vaughn and several others showed they support.
Everyone recognizes the fact that Distracted Driving encompasses many forms of distraction. Officers in the field report everything from eating and drinking, putting on make-up, using navigation systems, speaking with passengers and of course the use of cell phones to make calls or texting.
The Tour saw Sheriffs, Chiefs of Police, local elected officials, cycling enthusiasts, and concerned members of the public find out how we can turn Southeastern Arizona we hope will one day be called a Safe Driving Haven. The goal is to educate and hopefully gain support from attendees to help in the process of adopting distracted driving ordinances.
The bottom line? It is all about saving lives. It isn’t just about being more aware of bicycles or motorcycles, it is about reducing the possibility that a distracted driver does no harm to other drivers and users of our highway system.
Why focus on cell phones in this distracted driving program? In October of 2010 the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) prohibited commercial truck drivers from texting while driving. Then in January 2012, the FMCSA banned the use of cell phones by interstate truck drivers, intrastate HAZMAT truck drivers, and bus drivers. But because there is a growing body of evidence regarding the dangers of distracted driving how much longer should we wait to save lives and protect the traveling public?
We believe the time is NOW. This safety road show was designed to heighten awareness and gain support for this Save-A-Life effort. It was also intended to educate the public about these hazards. Both goals were met.
Please let us know if you have any questions, wish to review existing distracted driving ordinances from Oro Valley or Clifton or have other comments or suggestions.