Tempe bans distracted driving

Driver seen in Tempe using his cell phone at a stop light, twenty-five days before the “Distracted Driving” ban is put into effect. (Photo by Julia Thatcher/Cronkite News)

The Tempe City Council passed one of Arizona’s toughest distracted driving bans Thursday. Tempe’s new ordinance would fine drivers who drive erratically while using their phones. Fines start at $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense and up to $500 for another infraction within a two-year period.

“People text and drive, talk on their phone and drive. They think, ‘I’m safe, so I don’t need a rule about it,'” said Tempe City Councilmember Kolby Granville, who voted for the restriction. “Well, my crazy uncle thinks he can drive drunk safe. It doesn’t mean he’s right. It just means he’s been lucky.”

While the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety agreed with what the ordinance is trying to accomplish, its director is skeptical as to what the outcome will be.

“The city can pass ordinance, but the key is it has to be enforced,” Alberto Gutier said. “The city of Tempe, they do a great job and have a fantastic police department that is very devoted to traffic safety. But at the same time, there are other ordinances that have to handle besides this ordinance. ”

The ordinance takes effect Oct. 23.