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AAA: Arizona needs tougher cell phone driving laws

PHOENIX -- A state motorist agency is calling on Arizona to pass stricter driving laws during April, which is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Stephanie Dembowski with Triple-A of Arizona said the Grand Canyon State is one of only a dozen that has not enacted a ban on the use of cell phones and other wireless devices by new drivers.

"It's been proven in states that have these strengthened (graduated driver's license) laws that these laws do save lives," she said. "The research there is showing that they work."

However, some Arizona legislatures are taking up the issue. Several bills are in the works and one, HB 2359, has passed the House but is currently stalled in the Senate.

"Right now in the Legislature, we have HB 2359, which would strengthen Arizona's current graduated driver's license law by banning wireless communication devices among novice drivers,"

In 2011 and 2012, more than 6,600 people were killed in distracted driving crashes, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Association.

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About the Author


Martha is the traffic controller in the KTAR newsroom. Her full time role is that of Assignment and Breaking News Editor of KTAR News. She oversees daily Breaking News planning and over-the air execution, and puts together the elements that make it happen. She gathers and distributes daily news assignments to reporters and editors. She also reports on a daily basis, anchors news afternoons 1-2p and fills in as anchor occasionally during other time slots. She began working at KTAR in the winter of 2012 as Desk Editor and was promoted to oversee Assignments and Breaking News in 2014. During that time, she received two awards as a journalist. The first was the 2013 APTRA Awards, where she took home 2nd place for Best Serious Future in the "Recycled Orchestra." The second was a 2014 Edward R. Murrow Award for her collaboration in KTAR's Voice for a Better Arizona Series: Immigration - seeking solutions. In her piece, Martha profiled two Arizona sisters looking for the DREAM. Martha was born in Mazatlan, Mexico. She moved to Arizona in 1996 with her parents and younger sister and has lived here since. She attended Barry Goldwater High School in Phoenix and graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University in Tempe. Prior to working at KTAR news she worked in news and production at Univision Arizona in Phoenix. She also supervised the marketing, catering and public relations department at Hotel Araiza, 5-star hotel in Mexicali, Mexico. She has also been a personal trainer and aerobics instructor. When she isn't in the newsroom or behind the microphone Martha is an avid gym-goer and marathoner. She trains for two races a year and enjoys taking group exercise classes, such as kickboxing, indoor cycling and weight lifting. Martha is married and lives in Surprise, AZ with 2 dogs, Tasha and Elsa, and a cat, Sammy.

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