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Arizona remains 1 of 5 states without statewide texting ban

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Drivers in Arizona see it almost daily - drivers texting behind the wheel. The potentially deadly behavior is not against the law.

"The majority of people know that it's wrong, but they admitted to doing it anyway," said Stephanie Dembowski of AAA Arizona.

That's what one AAA survey showed when randomly polling their members.

Dembowski pointed to another annual AAA survey which measures members' opinions about public affairs issues. 

"What we found is that 92 percent of them said that they support a statewide ban on texting while driving."

Those big numbers in favor of a ban aren't just with AAA members.

"Most parents I talk to say, ‘Yes! This is what I want. I want a no texting while driving bill. It's the right thing to do,'" said Sen. Al Melvin, R-District 11.

For five years now, Melvin has been trying to pass bills that outlaw texting while driving. The latest, Senate Bill 1241, banned wireless devices for teens during their first six months of having a license. It never received a hearing on the Senate floor.

Other state lawmakers have authored bills as well, but none of them have passed.

"Some call it nanny state legislation, some say you're infringing upon my rights here, or its unenforceable," Melvin told CBS 5 on Wednesday.

That pushback from other lawmakers leaves Arizona as one of only five states without a statewide texting ban.

AAA Arizona explains why they call the risky behavior "the mother of all distractions."

"It takes your mind off the road, your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel. So all of those three components that are so crucial to being a safe driver are completely removed from the situation," said Dembowski.

Melvin says it comes down to the safety of the public and says he will continue to pursue a ban as long as it takes.

"To quote Winston Churchill, ‘Never, ever, ever give up.'  Next year will be another year to go after it," said Melvin.

In the meantime, those who are truly concerned about this issue should continue to reach out to their legislators and make their voices heard.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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