Legislature Has Many Reasons to Make Safety a Priority

AAA Arizona prepares to track bills as session begins

Phoenix, January 14, 2013. Today marks the start of the “long, long journey to the capital city” for many bills that “hope and pray” they will become laws someday, otherwise known as opening day for the 2013 Arizona State Legislature. This year, AAA aims to build on progress that has made Arizona’s roads safer.

“From strengthening our graduated driver licensing law and expanding our Move Over law, to mandating ignition interlocks for DUI offenders and adopting a comprehensive child passenger safety law, Arizona has made a great deal of progress in recent years,” said Linda Gorman, director of communication and public affairs. “However, given that car crashes remain one of the leading causes of death nationwide, policymakers have many reasons to make road safety a priority this session.”

AAA’s top safety priorities for 2013 include:

  • Distracted driving: Distracted driving will continue to be a hot topic at the capitol this session, producing bills in both legislative chambers. AAA continues to support a statewide ban on text messaging. This session, AAA is focused on strengthening Arizona’s graduated driver licensing law (GDL) by banning the use of wireless communications devices for novice drivers (for six months of supervised driving and six months of unsupervised driving). Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for teens, accounting for almost one in three fatalities in this age group. Studies show that the majority (82 percent) of 16- and 17-year-old drivers have cell phones, and readily admit to using these devices behind the wheel. This distraction, coupled with the inexperience of developing teen drivers, can be a deadly combination.
  • Ignition interlocks: Ignition interlocks work. AAA estimates suggest that 50 to 75 percent of offenders with suspended licenses continue to drive and have more alcohol-impaired crashes than drivers with an ignition interlock. Arizona currently mandates the use of interlock devices for first-time offenders. However, in recent years, several bills have been introduced that would remove this requirement. This session, AAA will be watching for and opposing legislation that aims to revoke this requirement, as AAA research shows these devices can reduce repeat offenses by a median of 67 percent.
  • Primary seat belt laws: Primary seat belt laws have repeatedly been shown as a low-cost way for states to quickly increase belt use, reduce traffic deaths and lower the cost of crashes. When lap/shoulder belts are used, the risk of injury to the front-seat occupants is reduced by 45 percent and states passing primary-enforcement seat belt laws should expect to see belt usage increase 10-13 percent. Arizona is one of 18 states without a primary belt law. This session, AAA will watch for and support primary belt legislation.

As an advocacy organization, AAA Arizona is actively involved in the legislative process. Last year, the club actively monitored or engaged in more than 100 bills introduced at the state capitol. In addition to transportation related issues, AAA also monitors legislation pertaining to the automotive, travel and insurance industries.

Arizonans can monitor the progress and take action on legislation introduced this session by visiting AAA’s legislative action center.

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and travel services to more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on Arizona roadways. The auto club also provides insurance, travel, auto repair, discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.