Deer Valley, AZ –  AAA is supporting a new bill that aims to strengthen Arizona’s Graduated Driver License Law (GDL).

Sponsored by Rep. Karen Fann (R), HB 2359 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.

“By taking wireless communication devices, such as cell phones, out of teen drivers’ hands, we can reduce already heightened crash risks and help teens create safer driving habits,” said Linda Gorman, director of communications and public affairs for AAA Arizona. “As an advocacy organization, AAA believes this legislation will save lives.”

Novice drivers are more likely to become distracted by a wireless communication device in a car compared to more experienced drivers, according to a new study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. The study also found that young drivers are three to five times more likely to be involved in a crash or near-crash when reaching for or dialing a phone.

Nearly 80 percent of teens ages 16-17 have a cell phone, according to the Pew Research Center 2013 data. And, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, young drivers admit to doing the following behind the wheel:

  • 64 percent of teens answer a phone call.
  • 52 percent of teens call someone on the phone.
  • 47 percent talk on the phone without a hands-free device.
  • 44 percent read a text message.

“Research shows novice drivers and distractions—particularly wireless communication devices—pose a deadly combination,” Gorman said. “As a safety leader, AAA urges legislators to vote in favor of HB 2359. The legislation has the potential to curb dangers associated with teen drivers during their most vulnerable time on the road.”

AAA Arizona lobbied for strengthening Arizona’s current GDL law, which has proven to be effective. However, AAA believes there is still room to improve Arizona’s law, as motor vehicle crashes continue to be among the leading cause of death among teens.

HB 2359 is scheduled to be heard by the House Transportation Committee at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014.

As an advocacy organization representing more than 850,000 Arizonans, AAA is actively involved in the legislative process. Each session, the club actively monitors or engages 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.