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  • Board approves ordinances on medians, texting

    May 17, 2016 | Read More News
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    traffic safety ordinance On Tuesday, May 17, the Pima County Board of Supervisors approved 4-1 an ordinance that prohibits pedestrians from lingering in the median of an intersection for purposes other than waiting for the signal to change to cross safely.  The Supervisors also unanimously approved a measure banning texting while driving.

    Pima County’s Department of Transportation (DOT) recommended the ordinance to address vehicle and pedestrian safety issues. Traffic data collected over the last 15 years show that Pima County has an average of 357 injury crashes at signalized intersections with an average of three fatalities every year. Of those, nine injuries involved pedestrians in or around the median and at least one results in a fatality every two years.
    Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos, who spoke at length during the meeting, strongly supported both measures.

    The ordinance relating to the Use of Handheld Electronic Devices While Operating a Motor Vehicle (texting while driving) will become effective June 16, 2016, according to a news release from the Pima County Sheriff's Department. The ordinance (10.34.020) states: A person may not, while driving a motor vehicle on a highway, manually manipulate a handheld electronic device for any purpose other than to initiate, receive, or engage in voice communication. It is a civil traffic offense to violate this ordinance. There will be a thirty day grace period for drivers following the effective date of the ordinance. During this grace period, drivers will receive a written warning when they are found to be in violation of this ordinance.

    The traffic safety ordinance will impact 32 signalized intersections in unincorporated Pima County, which Sheriff Nanos identified based on public safety priority. The ordinance will prohibit pedestrians from occupying a median for longer than one traffic cycle. Violation of this ordinance will result in removal from the median and prosecution under A. R. S.  13-1502, -1503, -1504. 

    Before enforcement of the ordinance can begin, DOT must first post enforcement signs at each of the 32 intersections. DOT workers began installing signs at the first 14 priority intersections in the Foothills District on May 18 and will continue adding signage to the remaining 18 intersections in the Rincon and San Xavier Districts by next week. 

    In addition to prohibiting pedestrians from lingering in the median, this ordinance also specifies that medians must be six feet wide or wider to provide a safe space for pedestrians to safely wait for a signal change.
    District 2 Supervisor Ramón Valadez, who voted in favor of the ordinance, requested a staff report in three months that shows how the county has provided help to homeless individuals who sometimes sell newspapers in the median who are impacted by this change. Pima County has a number of programs and resources for those experiencing homelessness, including the Sullivan Jackson Employment Center, which is the only program of its type in Arizona and one of only four American Job Centers in the nation providing employment assistance to people experiencing homelessness. 

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