The Associated Press March 5, 2010, 10:49AM ET

Arizona Senate votes to ban texting while driving

Lawmakers trying to prohibit texting while driving have succeeded in resurrecting the legislation in the Arizona Senate.

Senators on Thursday gave preliminary approval to the bill on a 17-11 vote, which would be enough support for passage on a formal vote that could occur next week. Senate passage would send the bill to the House.

The action Thursday came two days after the legislation failed on an 11-11 vote, as opponents argued against new government restrictions.

The ban is needed to make roads safer, proponents said.

"The bottom line is a few seconds off the road can take lives," said Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor, D-Phoenix.

Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, said motorists distracted by texting can and should be ticketed for reckless driving.

"This is purely feel-good legislation," he said.

The bill would prohibit writing, reading or sending text messages and e-mails while driving. It would not prohibit talking on the phone while driving and would allow drivers to type a name or telephone number to make a call.

Also, in a change made Thursday, drivers could text if they pull over to the side of the road and stop their vehicle.

Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, introduced the bill that passed the Senate. As written, violators would face a $50 fine. If involved in an accident, they'd face a fine of $200.

The Senate last year defeated a similar measure by one vote.

This year's measure was supported by cell phone and insurance companies, as well as hospital, police and firefighter groups.

Phoenix in 2007 passed a texting ban for motorists.

Nineteen states prohibit all drivers from texting. A handful of other states prohibit teens or drivers with a learner's permit from doing it.

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Associated Press Writer Jonathan C. Cooper contributed.


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