Distracted Driving Causing Crashes in Arizona, but Cell Phones Not the Biggest Cause

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Lord Jim via Flickr

People who text and drive are notoriously bad drivers, but according to recent crash statistics, most accidents caused by distracted driving don't involve cell phone use.

As part of Distracted Driving Awareness month, the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) released the results of car accident information they collected from November 2013 to April 2014.

According to DPS' information, of the 10,166 total crashes in that time period, 1,163 were distracted driver crashes (around 11 percent). Ten people were killed and 380 were injured as a result of distracted driving.

"These numbers are saddening and are the exact reason why DPS is committed to enforcing existing laws on driving behavior related to distracted driving," the DPS report says.

Although cell phone use typically comes to mind when discussing distracted driving, it's not the leading cause of distracted driving accidents. "Outside distractions" was the leading cause, accounting for over 22 percent of the accidents. Reaching for objects within the vehicle was the second cause, at around 11 percent, followed closely by cell phone use, also around 11 percent, as the cause of 127 crashes.

States across the nation have been cracking down on distracted driving with legislation in the last few years, but Arizona is one of five states without a statewide distracted driving law. As of now, Arizona school bus drivers are banned from using cell phones whilst on the job, and both Phoenix and Tucson implemented fines for texting while driving. But even so, awareness rather than laws may be the key to preventing distracted driving.

"Although [Arizona] has DUI laws, we still have folks that get behind the wheel impaired," DPS spokesman Raul Garcia says. "The [distracted driving] laws help for having a specific violation to write, but I can't speak to laws specific to Arizona because they don't exist."

Although legislation addressing distracted driving has been introduced in Arizona, many of the bills have failed in the past. Only one of the five bills introduced this session, HB 2359, is still alive. The bipartisan-backed HB 2359 would ban drivers with learner's permits from using cell phones while driving, as well as in the first six months of receiving a driver's license.

The bill passed out of the House, and is currently awaiting a Senate vote.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.

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Greg Guerrero
Greg Guerrero

It's gotta be the calico hair coloring of milfs

Adam Chrestman
Adam Chrestman

Sign flippers contribute to this often. It's time they got a real job

Chris Rafter
Chris Rafter

This is an incredibly worthless and poorly written article. So it's not cell phones, WTF is it then? The article just says "Outside Distractions" are the number one problem. What is that? Other vehicles? UFOs? Then it goes on to mention impaired driving, adding another dimension. If you're distracted but not impaired, that's a problem, but what if you're impaired and easily distracted? Can you be impaired but undistracted? Does what you are distracted by change with whether or not you are impaired?

Matt Batstone
Matt Batstone

Leave a space between you and the car in front of you look up the Smith system. I am a cdl-a driver and use in in the truck and my personal vehicle. Yes it works...

Nathan Schneider
Nathan Schneider

Of the stupid people I see driving, most were on their cell phones; however, one guy was holding a small puppy.

Gary Hinchman
Gary Hinchman

......for all Arizonians and guests to the state, beware that the cops can and will arrest you for the slightest impairment while driving, than means and includes driving under the influence of no drugs whatsoever...ie, 70% of normal people cannot pass the field sobriety tests.....it does not matter if you blow zero on the breath test...ie, you can be arrested for absolutely no reason in this state, except of course if you are a person of color or one that the cop doesn't like for any personal reason.......ie, you are nuts for coming here and are taking a big risk.......

G Bø Tta
G Bø Tta

That's bcuz 22% or more people have no lives and are so damn nosey in AZ.

valleynative topcommenter

Saying that we don't have "a distracted driving law" is misleading.  It is already illegal to drive while distracted, whether by a cell phone, fumbling through your purse, changing CD's, etc.

We lack a *specific* law against driving while distracted by a cell phone, which, as a quote in the article suggests, only really serves to provide "a specific violation to write".

To be fair, the other benefit of such a law would be educational.  The media would report that it's illegal, and that might, conceivably change the behavior of those people who fear a ticket more than they fear causing an accident.

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