Governor pushing public safety with new traffic laws - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Governor pushing public safety with new traffic laws

DES MOINES (KWWL)---On the steps of the State Capitol Wednesday, Governor Chet Culver reminded Iowans that two new highway safety laws take effect July 1 that affect drivers and passengers. Both laws are aimed at saving lives and preventing serious injuries by curbing two of the most unsafe driving behaviors – texting while driving and not buckling up. 

The event featured a Safety Teens Erasing Pain (STEP) presentation by the Creative Visions Traffic Safety Team of Des Moines. STEP is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Public Safety's Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau to raise awareness about the importance of traffic safety. Representatives from law enforcement, first responders, and public and private organizations, as well as legislators, attended to show their support of these important safety measures.

A new rest area sign was unveiled that features the Iowa Department of Transportation and Department of Public Safety's educational campaign slogan: Curb it-Click it.

Governor Culver also reaffirmed his commitment to the law by taking AT&T's pledge to never text and drive. AT&T has been a leader in Iowa and the country in reaching out to their subscribers and others to prevent texting while driving through its "Txtng & Drivng…It Can Wait" campaign. The campaign is a nationwide educational effort to remind those who use wireless devices, especially young drivers, that text messaging can wait – and should wait until after driving.

"We know distracted driving is an important challenge for Iowa drivers because last year more than 6,000 people nationally died in accidents related to it. Law enforcement will be offering warnings this year, but every Iowa driver should know there are real penalties in this law because keeping drivers safe on the roads is a priority of this administration," Governor Culver said.

Iowa's new electronic communication device law prohibits all drivers from texting while driving. It also prohibits teen drivers who hold a restricted license from using any electronic communication or electronic entertainment device while driving.

Iowa's seat belt law was also amended by the legislature. Now, all persons in a motor vehicle under age 18 must use a seat belt, safety harness or child safety restraint system.  Iowa's seat belt laws already require all persons, regardless of age, to buckle up when in the front seat of a motor vehicle.

Starting Thursday, July 1, law enforcement officers will be issuing traffic citations to persons 14 and older who violate Iowa's seat belt laws. Stepped-up enforcement activities are planned for the holiday weekend, and officers will be looking to make sure everyone in the front seat is buckled and that all children (under age 18) in the back seat are properly secured.

Persons convicted of violating the Safety Belts and Safety Harnesses law face a fine of at least $127.50. Persons convicted of violating the Child Restraint Devices law face a fine of at least $195.

Wednesday's news conference also kicked off a one-year educational period in which law enforcement officers will be issuing warnings to any drivers violating the no texting while driving law and to teen drivers using electronic entertainment/communication devices while driving.



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