Senate Passes Proposed GDL Legislation

Phoenix, Ariz. April 3, 2012. HB 2348, a bill that would strengthen Arizona’s Graduated Drivers License Law (GDL), passed out of the Senate by a vote of 18-11 today. Sponsored by Senator John McComish (R), HB 2348 would prohibit teens from using wireless communication devices while operating a motor vehicle during the permit and first six months of the GDL phases, except for in emergency situations.

“We are thrilled that the Senate has recognized the importance of this legislation, which mitigates the most common—and most dangerous—distraction for teen drivers during the most critical phases of the learning to drive process,” said Linda Gorman, director of communications and public affairs for AAA Arizona. “We commend Senator McComish and the entire Senate for their efforts, and hope the momentum behind this bill continues in the House.”

Last week, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed the results of an in-vehicle study that found that electronic devices serve as the most common teen driver distraction. The study reported that on average, teen drivers using electronic devices took their eyes off the road for a full second longer than drivers not using such a device. To put this in perspective, at 65 mph, a vehicle travels the length of a basketball court in a single second.

AAA Arizona lobbied for strengthening 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 year period.

Currently, only Phoenix and Tucson have statutes that ban all motorists from texting while driving. Tucson’s ordinance went into effect April 1. However, no Arizona municipality restricts motorists from using a hand-held phone while operating a motor vehicle.

HB 2348 will now move to the House floor for final consideration. Arizonans can monitor the progress and take action on this bill, as well as other transportation related issues, by visiting AAA’s legislative action center.

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and auto 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.