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After hearing the public’s reaction last night to a proposed new law that would make it illegal to send text messages while driving in Tucson, the City Council says it will take a formal vote on the idea within a month.

Council members seemed supportive of such a ban but decided to make changes to the proposal, including who would be exempt and how steep the fine could be, and then reconsider it later.

The Tucson city attorney drafted the proposal using the Phoenix city ordinance that bans texting while driving there. During the public comment portion of the meeting, county resident Mark Spear said it could be hard to enforce, and suggested the council slow down its timeline.

“I think there should be a pilot program with a review of the effectiveness and public input prior to continuing after the pilot program," Spear said.

Others spoke in support of the ban, including the chairman of the city and county bicycle advisory committee, and a local trauma doctor.

Councilwoman Karin Uhlich, who supports a ban, said she thinks it would serve as a deterrent.

“Having traveled in cities where these kinds of bans are in effect, one of the first things that gets communicated when you get behind the wheel is a cab driver or a friend or somebody saying, ‘don’t text around here,’” Uhlich said.

Similar proposals have been made to ban texting while driving statewide, but those have never made it into law, which is one of the reasons city councilmembers say want to take action locally. The council plans to take a final vote on a Tucson texting while driving ban within the next 30 days.

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About Political Buzz

News, commentary, analysis from the AZPM political team: Christopher Conover, Andrea Kelly, Michael Chihak.