Research has established that new teen drivers have higher accident rates compared to more experienced motorists. Different states have tackled this problem with a wide variety of legislation. Many have adopted graduated licensing programs, which restrict the number of passengers a teen driver may transport or the hours they may drive.
The Arizona state legislature has declined to implement these requirements. However, it did recently adopt another common provision. Beginning in July 2018, teen drivers will be banned from using a cell phone while driving during the first six months after they earn their license.
When a teen driver causes a serious crash, resulting in injury to their passengers, other vehicle occupants or vulnerable road users, like bicyclists or pedestrians, it's necessary to hire a Phoenix auto accident attorney to recover financial and intangible losses.
How Does the New Law Work?
According to U.S. News and World Report, the new Arizona law prohibits teens from using cellphones while they hold an instructional permit and during the first six months in which they hold a graduated driver's license. Upon signing the legislation, Governor Doug Ducey stated that he believes a blanket ban on texting for all drivers would be ineffective. He would, however, expand the prohibition to all drivers under the age of 18. Ducey believes the law can “act as a teacher” to young drivers in Arizona.
The passage of Arizona’s first distracted driving legislation in years raises important questions about teen driving safety. How can teens be taught safe driving habits during the early, formative days of their driving? This is a critical time for implementing safe habits which can protect drivers for years to come. Many other states go much further in regulating teens’ driving privileges. Graduated drivers licensing programs often prohibit teens from carrying minor passengers or driving at night - both of which have been demonstrated to increase the risk that a teen driver will cause an accident.
By contrast, Arizona only requires teens to complete a driver’s education course (or have a parent or guardian attest that the teen has completed 30 hours of supervised driving) before getting a graduated driver’s license. Graduated license holders are subject to no more driving restrictions than adult holders of operator’s licenses. The new ban on cell phone use for new teen drivers is effectively the only restriction they face under Arizona law.
What Parents Can Do to Protect Teen Drivers
It will be interesting to see how Governor Ducey and state legislators navigate the restriction of teen drivers. Research on distracted driving continues to enhance our understanding of the effect state laws can have on driver safety. This makes it likely that Arizona has not seen the end of new distracted driving legislation. Regardless of the state of the law, parents must take the initiative to supervise their teen drivers and promote safe driving habits as soon as a teen learns to drive.
Family rules should clearly set expectations for safe driving. Passengers can be a serious safety hazard, and parents should ensure that teen drivers are not becoming distracted by other teens in the vehicle. Unnecessary cellphone use should never be allowed. This is particularly important for new drivers who do not yet have the experience to quickly respond to road conditions and hazards. A Phoenix car accident attorney can help teens, parents and auto accident victims ascertain their legal obligations and options following a serious crash.