Traffic Safety Initiatives: One Town’s Approach to Combating Distracted Driving: Oro Valley Goes Hands-Free

In Arizona, a law enforcement officer rarely goes a single day without seeing someone driving on a highway or roadway with a mobile phone or other electronic device in their hand that is causing the motorist to have some form of cognitive, visual, or physical distraction. Unfortunately, there is nothing most of the approximately 14,000 police officers across the state can do about it since Arizona remains one of the last states without any kind of “hands-free” or “no texting” law. While it might be thought by some that officers should simply pull drivers over for committing the subsequent roadway infraction bound to result from their distraction, if that infraction involves running a red light or swerving into a bicycle lane occupied by cyclists, the end result could be tragic. The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that distracted driving crashes claimed the lives of 3,477 people in 2015 in the United States, with another 391,000 being injured. A July 2016 survey in Police Chief discovered that 48 percent of respondents believed distracted driving was the top traffic safety concern within their communities. This was by far the top concern. Speeding was the second traffic safety risk at 18 percent.