We have had an interesting beginning to this Legislative Session. Our Bill, HB2345; motorcycles; all-terrain vehicles; cycles; equipment, to remove Handlebar Shoulder Height Restriction from the Motor Vehicle Code, was heard in the Transportation Committee on Feb 10, 2015. Various members testified for our bill. We impressed the fact that out of state riders from New Mexico and Colorado, of which have no handlebar height restriction, Refuse to come to Arizona for fear of being stopped and ticketed. This is a big loss of revenue to our state. We caught their attention while describing the loss of revenue for such events as Bike Week of Arizona and other larger Organizational Runs throughout the year. We provided them with a picture comparison of a Bike Rider sitting up straight and legal, to that same rider and bike with the rider leaning back against his back pack. We showed the small difference in angle of his arm position was enough to get him stopped and ticketed. The bill passed 9-0 with one Rep. requesting a possible amendment regarding language referring to ATV’s.
Arizona motorcyclists were asked by Senator Farley to support his ‘texting prohibition’ Bill. After reading some very good points made by one of ABATE’s officers, who just happens to be a lawyer, it was decided that we may lose additional freedoms by supporting this Bill and that there were so many other distractions causing drivers to crash.
We do not have a Distracted Driving Law in Arizona, even though the motorcycle lobby team tried about 6 years ago. The reason being is that there are both Reckless and Aggressive driving laws already on the books.
When Senator Farley’s office sent us this DPS Press Release below, we decided to clarify what looked to us like drivers actually being pulled over for cell phone use and various other distracted driving behaviors, even though we have no laws on the books to support those things. In talking with the DPS lobbyist, he assured us that all drivers were pulled over for violating an existing law, such as unsafe lane change, failure to yield the right of way, speed being not reasonable or prudent, non use of directional’s and so on. Then when approached by the officer, the driver either told on themselves as to what had distracted them, or it was obvious what had caused them to be driving distracted and therefore violating one of the existing safe driving laws.
dPS releases Latest distracted driving Enforcement details for Arizona highways
Over 19,000 traffic stops and 2,400 collisions attributed to distracted driving
Monday, September 29, 2014 –
Arizona — Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers have focused enforcement action on distracted driving related violations with the preemptive goal to prevent collisions stemming from this problem.
DPS has been committed to educating drivers about the dangers of driving while distracted. Distracted drivers mimic impaired driving behavior and can have deadly consequences. The ability for drivers to perceive danger and successfully avoid common roadway hazards is also greatly reduced.
Part of the education process for DPS and the public includes the collection of traffic stop and collision data related to distracted driving. Data collection assists with determining the problem and identifying ways to accurately inform the public of safety concerns. The latest distracted driving enforcement data was collected between January 1 and September 16, of 2014.
DPS officers made a total of 309,654 traffic stops during the eight and a half month period. 19,800 of those traffic stops were made due to distracted driving behavior. The biggest distractors leading to poor driving behavior are; 3,642 drivers stopped for cell phone use, 3,508 drivers stopped for other occupant related issues and 2,385 stopped for outside distractions. The other distractions in order from greatest to least are other electronic media, eating or drinking, on-board equipment, texting, reaching for objects, pets, smoking or tobacco use, reading and grooming or makeup.
DPS officers investigated 2,400 collisions attributed to distracted driving. The biggest driver distraction leading to collisions were; 393 outside distractions, 238 reaching for objects and 167 for cell phone use. The other distracters in order from greatest to least are other occupants, other electronic media, eating or drinking, texting, pets, reading, grooming / makeup and smoking or tobacco use.
DPS’ Highway Patrol division will continue its intensive statewide patrol effort to target distracted drivers in Arizona through education and enforcement of existing state laws.
HELMET FEES LEGISLATION:
Meanwhile it was found that a newly appointed Representative Friese, a brain surgeon, had submitted a Bill to charge 18 and over riders in AZ a ‘Fee’ if they wanted to be able to ride without a helmet. Arizona currently has an under 18 helmet law. Well as you can imagine, we all jumped on that band wagon. With phone calls and emails to the Speaker of the House, we found that he was not for the Bill and so it might not even get a First Read or assigned any committees. With phone calls and emails to Rep Gray, Chairman of the TRANS Committee where this Bill would be assigned, we found that he was not for the Bill and therefore if it did get assigned his committee, he would never hear it. We feel safe that HB2607 is going nowhere, but keeping an eye on it just the same. Still hasn’t had First Read.
Billy “Desperado” Larson
MMA-AZ Designated Lobbyist