This month, a new restriction of Arizona’s Graduated Driver License (GDL) law took effect, addressing the most common and dangerous distraction for teen drivers.
Arizona teen drivers who hold a Class G license are now prohibited from using wireless communication devices, such as a mobile phone, while operating a vehicle during the permit and first six months of GDL phases. Exceptions are made for emergency situations or when using turn-by-turn voice guided directions.
“GDL laws are about protecting teen drivers by giving them time to develop their driving skills in low-risk settings,” said Michelle Donati, spokeswoman for AAA Arizona. “As Arizona’s enhanced law takes effect, our hope is that it will spark a new dialogue about road safety with families and ultimately create safer roads for everyone.”
Governor Doug Ducey signed this legislation into law in April 2017, stating, “For our youth, these laws can act as a teacher. In fact, I’d be in favor of a law that goes further, banning texting while driving for all minors. Driving is a privilege for our youth, and they are still the responsibility of their parents, financially and otherwise, before the age of 18.”
The new restriction is subject to secondary enforcement, which means novice teen drivers must first be pulled over for committing another traffic violation to be cited for using a wireless communication device. Violators will face fines and extension of the six-month restricted driving period.
“Using a cell phone while driving is a habit—a very bad habit that’s hard to break,” said Alberto Gutier, director of the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “This law gives our youngest and most inexperienced drivers an opportunity to develop better and safer habits behind the wheel.”
“It is important for youth to build good driving habits from the onset that will shape their driving behavior in the future,” said Col. Frank Milstead, DPS director. “All too often DPS troopers witness the devastation caused by distracted drivers. Our troopers will continue to patrol throughout the state targeting all behavior that endangers the public including distracted driving.”
Teen drivers have the highest crash rate of any other age group in the United States. They are also among the most avid users of wireless communication devices. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than half of teen drivers report using a cell phone while driving, a dangerous behavior for both the driver and everyone they share the road with.
For more information on Arizona’s GDL law, visit AZDOT.gov.