SB 1241 aims to eliminate most common teen driver distractions

AAA is supporting a new bill that aims to strengthen Arizona’s Graduated Drivers License Law (GDL).

Sponsored by Sen. Al Melvin (R), SB 1241 would prohibit teens from using wireless communication devices while operating a vehicle during the permit and first six months of the GDL phases, except for in emergency situations.

About 82 percent of 16- and 17-year-old drivers have cell phones and are more likely to use them than any other age group while driving, according to AAA research. In addition, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety uncovered the following in its most recent study:

61 percent of young drivers (age 16-24) reported to have read a text or email while driving in the past month.

26 percent of young drivers (age 16-24) reported checking or updating social media while driving.

Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent, according to research by Carnegie Mellon. Plus, the risk of a teen being involved in a car crash is at a lifetime high during the first 6 to 12 months and 1,000 miles of driving, according to the National Safety Council. AAA believes SB 1241 will curb dangers associated with teen drivers during that time.

AAA Arizona lobbied for the passage of Arizona’s current GDL law, which has proven to be effective. In fact, teen driver and passenger fatalities are down 16 percent from 2008 when the state’s GDL law took effect. However, AAA believes there is still room to improve, as traffic crashes continue to be the leading cause of death among teens.

Arizonans can monitor the progress and take action on this bill, as well as other automotive, insurance, transportation and travel related issues by visiting AAA’s legislative action center.

Briefs compiled by staff and wire reports

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