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Travel group AAA is asking the Arizona Legislature to pass a primary seat belt law, require use of more ignition interlock systems and increase penalties for distracted driving.

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Photo: Mark Duggan

The Catalina Highway on Mt. Lemmon

Spokeswoman Michelle Donati says AAA Arizona supports a statewide ban on text messaging while driving and wants teeth added to existing novice driver laws by banning the use of all wireless devices by teens while in a vehicle.

Donati says motor vehicle crashes account for nearly one in three fatalities among teens, and most are caused by distracted driving.

Another legislative priority for AAA is to increase the use of ignition interlock devices. Donati cites research that shows such equipment reduces repeat DUI offenses by about 67 percent. The devices will not allow a vehicle to start until the user has blown through a tube to prove sobriety.

Current Arizona law requires all first-time DUI offenders to have the interlock device installed on their vehicles. But last year, several lawmakers introduced ultimately unsuccessful bills to remove the mandate. Donati says AAA will actively watch for such legislation and oppose it.

AAA is also pushing legislators to enact a primary seat belt law in Arizona, one of 18 states without one. It would allow police to stop drivers and cite them simply for not wearing a seat belt.

Currently, drivers can't be stopped solely for seat belt violations. According to AAA, traffic deaths are lower in states with primary seat belt laws.

More resources: AAA Arizona's legislative action center