Texting bans: Drivers conducting business on the phone - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Texting bans: Drivers conducting business on the phone

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Truck and bus drivers are no longer allowed to text while driving. Tuesday the U.S. Transportation Department created an immediate ban on text messaging by commercial vehicles.

As Iowa debates passing a ban on all drivers, Dubuque is looking at passing a texting and driving ordinance within the city. While many support the ban, some people feel attached to their phones for business, even while driving.

"I would say I'm on my phone in some manner at least one hundred times a day," Ruhl and Ruhl Realtor Rob Cook said.

Even in the car, his phone is constantly chiming and chirping text alerts, voice mails, or incoming calls.

"Sometimes the urge to respond is too great, especially if it's business because I want to project that I'm responsive to my clients and people in my industry too," Cook said.

Of drivers aged 18 to 49, Nielsen data shows 71% admit to using a cell phone while driving, whether that's talking, texting or even using the Internet. Now, Dubuque is considering an ordinance to ban drivers from using cell phones.

"Personally, I think the vast majority of officers support it. Having been to several crash scenes where it's been a factor. Some of which were serious or even fatal," Lt. Scott Baxter of the Dubuque Police Department said.

Baxter says the ordinance would be enforceable and officers would adapt. Also, if contested, subpoenaed phone records would easily prove the offense.

Cook says he's definitely been guilty of distracted driving.

"Seriously, I catch myself after finishing a text conversation or what not, and I literally freak out because I don't remember driving for the last mile or half mile," Cook said.

As far as giving up the phone, businesspeople like Cook worry about the immediate impact on business.

"My fear is that it will make me seem less responsive to my clients, that they want an answer now. 'Hey, I put an offer in on my house, what's the status?'" Cook said.

Even so, Cook says he's growing to support a phone ban for safety's sake.

"I think if there was an ordinance in place, that would greatly reduce my temptation to answer a voicemail or pick up the phone."

Texting while driving could soon be banned for all drivers in Wisconsin under a bill that has passed the legislature. Governor Doyle says he will sign the bill into law. If that passes, Wisconsin would become the 20th state with an outright texting ban.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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