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Arizona law banning cellphone use for teen drivers goes into effect Sunday

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PHOENIX — A new law for some teen drivers in Arizona goes into effect this weekend.

Unless it’s an emergency – or they’re using turn-by-turn voice directions – those with a Graduated Driver License (GDL) cannot use wireless communication devices, like cellphones, while driving.

Violators will face fines and an extension of their six-month graduated driver period.

“GDL laws are about protecting teen drivers, giving them time to develop their driving skills in low-risk settings,” said Michelle Donati, spokeswoman for AAA Arizona. “Our hope is that (the new law) will spark a new dialogue about road safety with families and ultimately create safer roads for everyone.”

The cellphone restriction, which goes into effect Sunday, is subject to secondary enforcement. That means a driver must be pulled over for another traffic violation first before being cited.

Col. Frank Milstead, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said it’s important for teenagers to develop good driving habits from day one.

“All too often DPS troopers witness the devastation caused by distracted drivers,” he said. “Our troopers will continue to patrol throughout the state targeting all behavior that endangers the public, including distracted driving.”

Gov. Doug Ducey signed the legislation in April 2017.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than half of teen drivers report using a cellphone while driving.

Teen drivers have the highest crash rate of any age group in the United States. They also are among the most avid users of wireless communication devices.

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