SB 1056 Aims to Strengthen Arizona's GDL Law

Bill proposes cell phone ban for teen drivers

Phoenix, Ariz. Jan. 12, 2012. Research shows that teens readily admit to cell phone use behind the wheel. These distractions, coupled with the inexperience of developing teen drivers, can be a deadly combination. That’s why AAA Arizona is putting its support behind SB 1056, which would prohibit the use of wireless communication devices during a teen driver’s most dangerous learning period.

Sponsored by Senator John McComish (R), SB 1056 would prohibit teens from using wireless communication devices while operating a motor vehicle during the permit and first six months of the Graduated Drivers License (GDL) phases, except for in emergency situations.

“Teen drivers have unique risk factors that impact everyone on the road,” said Linda Gorman, communications and public affairs director for AAA Arizona. “SB 1056 aims to eliminate two of the most common distractions for teen drivers which will reduce these risks and help teens create safer driving habits.”

The AAA Foundation of Traffic Safety uncovered the following statistics in a 2010 study of cell phone activities of young drivers:

  • 64 percent of teens answer phone calls while driving.
  • 52 percent of teens place phone calls while driving.
  • 44 percent of teens read text messages while driving.

“While distracted driving is not limited to any particular age group, new and inexperienced teen drivers represent the largest risk to themselves and all those with whom they come into contact,” said Senator McComish. “This bill is one of the few that will allow these inexperienced drivers to remain focused on the task at hand, benefitting everyone on the road.”

AAA Arizona lobbied for the passage of Arizona’s current GDL law, which has proven to be effective since taking effect in July 2008. In 2007, teen drivers were involved in 15 percent of all fatal crashes in Arizona, compared to 8 percent in 2010, according to Arizona’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan Report Card. This represents a 61 percent decrease in teen driver involved fatalities over this three year period.

Despite a decrease in recent years, motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, accounting for more than one in three deaths in the age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In crashes involving 15 to 17-year old drivers, nearly two other individuals are killed for every teen driver killed, according to 2009 AAA report. Passengers are also at risk, as 60 percent of teenage passenger deaths in 2009 occurred in vehicles driven by another teenager, according to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

SB 1056 has been assigned to the Senate Public Safety and Human Services Committee. AAA will track the progress of SB 1056 and other transportation bills being considered during the 2012 Arizona legislature at http://www.aaaaz.com/news/legislativenews.htm.

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and auto travel services more than 800,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Emergency Road Service responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on the streets and highways of the state as well as providing 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. In 2008, AAA was ranked the No. 1 “socially responsible” brand by Landor’s BrandAsset® Valuator.