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Yes, you can be on your phone or another type of handheld device while stopped at a red light in Arizona.

Does this mean it’s a good idea to do so?

Probably not. The reality is that using any type of device while stopped at a red light takes a driver’s attention away from their surroundings.

Here, we want to review Arizona’s hands-free law, examine the exceptions for being stopped at a red light, and discuss some other distracted driving consequences that may make you think twice about doing so.

Can You Be On Your Phone At A Red Light In Arizona?

Understanding Arizona’s Hands-Free Law

In 2021, Arizona fully implemented its statewide hands-free law, prohibiting the use of all handheld electronic devices while operating a vehicle in motion. Here are some key aspects of the law:

  • Prohibition. The law bans using handheld cell phones or other electronic devices for texting, calling, or browsing while driving, except in hands-free mode.
  • Exceptions. Hands-free operation, such as Bluetooth headsets or dashboard mounts, is allowed. Emergency services, first responders, and utility workers are also exempt during the course of duty.
  • Penalties. Drivers caught violating the hands-free law face fines starting at $75 for the first offense and increasing for subsequent offenses.

Exception for Red Lights

Under Arizona law (A.R.S. § 28-914), using a handheld device while stopped at a red light or stop sign is not considered a violation. This is because the law applies only while the vehicle is in motion. However, this exception has its own risks, and drivers in Arizona should be aware of the potential consequences:

  • Reaction time. Even though the vehicle is stopped, the distraction of using a device could cause drivers to miss the light change or fail to see pedestrians crossing.
  • Rear-end collisions. Drivers engaged with their screens are less likely to notice surrounding traffic conditions, increasing the risk of rear-end collisions if a car in front stops suddenly.
  • Aggressive drivers. Delays from being distracted can frustrate other drivers, leading to road rage incidents.

Additional Consequences of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving remains a major safety issue in Arizona. In 2020, distracted driving contributed to nearly 10% of all crashes in the state, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Aside from fines, other consequences include:

  • Liability in crashes. If a distracted driver causes an accident, they may be held liable for the damages. This could include property damage, medical bills, and lost wages.
  • Insurance premiums. Being cited for distracted driving can lead to higher insurance premiums or policy cancellations.
  • Increased fatality risk. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving is a leading cause of traffic fatalities.

Working With an Attorney

If you somebody you care about has been injured due to the negligent actions of a distracted driver in Arizona, reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. You may be able to recover compensation for your losses, including coverage of your medical expenses, out-of-pocket losses, property damage expenses, pain and suffering damages, lost wages, and more. A car accident lawyer in Phoenix can explain your options moving forward and help you make an informed decision about your next steps to take.