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Brewer wary of a driver-texting ban

Brewer wary of a driver-texting ban

Governor's against it, but she says state law might not be effective

PHOENIX - Jan Brewer says motorists should not be texting while they're driving.

But she's not sure there ought to be a law to forbid it.

Not even for teens.

The governor's comments came Friday as she signed a proclamation declaring it to be "Teen Texting Can Wait Day." Speaking at a Phoenix high school, she said the use of text messages has grown exponentially, resulting in more drivers' paying less attention to what's happening on the road.

Friday's event also launched a public relations effort paid for by AT&T, one of the nation's largest cell-phone carriers, in conjunction with Phoenix Children's Hospital. It urges teens to sign a pledge vowing not to text while driving.

Brewer, however, was cool to the idea of a mandate.

"Hopefully, with the kinds of programs that we're seeing instituted here today, . . . that won't be necessary," Brewer said. "Teens will understand that it is very dangerous and it is incumbent upon them to not text if they want to be safe and keep their friends safe."

The governor emphasized that she was not trying to pre-empt legislators from considering the issue.

"It's really, really important that thoughts like this get vetted, and we have a lot of testimony from everybody, and we hear from everyone," the governor said.

But she questioned how effective such measures would be.

"You can write all the laws that you want," Brewer said. "But it sometimes doesn't make a whole lot of difference. People don't follow them."

There have been repeated efforts in the Legislature to ban texting while driving.

Last year, Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, managed to persuade a majority of senators to enact such a ban. That's the first time that had ever happened.

That, however, was the end of it: Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, refused to give the measure a hearing in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which he chairs.

"We already have laws that govern driving," Biggs said. "If you are doing anything that's distracting you and preventing you from driving safely, then you can be stopped."

He acknowledged that Arizona does have special laws applying to young drivers. Biggs said, though, that there was no reason to create a texting ban, even for teens.

That mirrors Brewer's thoughts.

"I have always believed that education and self-control is probably the best way to do it," the governor said. Brewer said the more public education there is, the more people will refrain from texting, without the need for a law.

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