Effort underway to enact texting and driving ban

Should Arizona ban texting and driving statewide? Lawmakers have tried before and failed, now an effort is underway at the State Capitol to try and get a ban in place. 2/4/15

Should Arizona ban texting and driving statewide? Lawmakers have tried before and failed; now an effort is underway at the State Capitol to try and get a ban in place.

The effort includes testimony from the family of a Department of Public Safety officer that was hit and killed by a suspected distracted driver.

Officer Tim Huffman was hit and killed along Interstate 8 while investigating another crash on the interstate.

Only two states in America have no texting while driving ban, Arizona is one of them, and the other is Montana. 44 of the states have a total ban, 4 have a partial ban, and all of that could change in Arizona if one family gets their wish.

It is a long road ahead, but Arizona is one step closer to ban texting and driving. Here at the State Capitol it was an emotional hearing from family members of Officer Huffman in an effort to ban texting and driving in Arizona.

"Eight seconds is all it took to kill my brother, Officer Timothy Huffman," said Huffman's brother.

Family members of Officer Huffman stood in front of Arizona lawmakers, pleading for them to create a law that would ban texting and driving in the state.

"I can't help to keep thinking that if this law was in effect, maybe, just maybe, my brother would still be here today," said Mary Huffman, Huffman's sister.

Officer Huffman was killed in May of 2013 after the driver of a tanker truck crashed into his patrol car while the truck driver was looking at his cell phone.

The driver Jorge Espinoza is on trial for second-degree murder. The jury is deliberating while the Huffman's testified in front of the committee. 

"The key element of defense, that the defense attorney is trying to use to get this murderer off is that we don't have a law," said Senator Steve Farley.

Farley has introduced nine bills that would ban texting and driving. Arizona lawmakers have rejected his efforts for the past five years, but on Wednesday the government committee approved his bill. The ban would restrict people from sending text messages; it would not ban reading messages or using navigational devices. 

The Huffman's say it is a good step in the right direction.

"We need this law, and I ask you as legislators please, please keep your people safe," said Tammy Huffman, Huffman's sister.

The bill still has to go through two other committees, the public safety, and transportation committee. If it passes both, it will then go to the full house for a vote. It is expected to meet a lot of resistance along the way, a lot of  lawmakers are against it, some feel we do not need a texting while driving ban, and others say they don't like the language of SB1102. 

The Huffman family says they have made it their mission to make sure this law passes.


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