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Texter in fender bender with senator after he proposes texting ban

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“A funny thing happened on the way home last night,” Sen. Bob Worsley said of the fender bender he got into roughly an hour after helping pass a ban on texting while driving in Arizona.

The Mesa Republican said he was rear ended while driving to his Mesa office from the Capitol, where Thursday afternoon he successfully amended HB2159 to include language that makes it illegal to read, write or send electronic messages on cell phones while driving.

The effort to outlaw texting while driving is more than a decade in the making. Arizona is one of the only states that haven’t banned the practice, despite years of failed bills, debates and tearful testimony from family members who’ve lost loved ones to distracted drivers.

Worsley wasn’t injured in the accident, when he was bumped while trying to turn onto McKellips Road off State Route 202.

“I think she thought I was going and she glanced down at her phone and bumped into the back of me,” he said.

It was clear the woman had been distracted by a glance at her phone because she protested too much, Worsley said: “She was really, hilariously protesting that… Her boyfriend’s rolling his eyes (at her).”

Worsley sponsored the amendment to keep the effort alive after an identical bill, sponsored by Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, guided the measure through a Senate committee but could not get the bill before the full Senate for a vote. Farley has sponsored bills to ban texting while driving since 2007.

Worsley acknowledged that was mostly due to the party affiliation of the bill’s sponsor — Democratic bills rarely get voted on in Arizona.

“Probably for it to work, it needed to be on a Republican bill,” Worsley said.

Worsley said he has the blessing of the bill’s original sponsor, Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescott, and is confident it will get the 31 votes necessary to pass the House of Representatives.

“I think we’ll get it done and the governor will sign it,” he said.

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