Arizona Gov. Ducey signs bill banning teen drivers from using cell phones

PHOENIX -- Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed legislation banning texting or other cellphone use by drivers with only a learners permit or during the first six months teenagers have a regular license.

Ducey signed the bill by Republican Sen. Karen Fann of Prescott on Thursday.

The legislation marks the first time in years the Legislature has approved a bill addressing cellphone use and distracted driving. Many Republican lawmakers contend distracted driving is already covered by existing laws and passing even a small cellphone ban will lead to broader efforts to ban their use behind the wheel.

Arizona is one of just four states without blanket bans on texting while driving. Arizona only bars school bus drivers from texting.

Senate Bill 1080 Fact Sheet:
teenage drivers; communication devices prohibited
https://apps.azleg.gov/BillStatus/BillOverview/68707

Statement from Gov. Ducey:

“Distracted driving is a growing problem in Arizona and nationally. I generally believe that public awareness and education campaigns are a more effective remedy to prevent accidents and save lives than blanket laws that let politicians feel like they’ve checked the box, and then move on to the next issue. For that reason, I am skeptical of large-scale bans on texting while driving — I just don’t think they work.”

“But this bill is different. The state already regulates a number of things when it comes to early driving by teens. And for good reason. 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.”

“If we can use the early years of their driving experience as an opportunity to guide them toward safe and responsible habits, that’s a good thing.”

The new law will go into effect on July 1, 2018.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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