State police looking to crack down on distracted driving in 2014
Written by Justin Andrews, Multimedia Reporter - bio | email
CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -
The Iowa Department of Public Safety says distracted driving has been an ongoing problem for years on roadways across Iowa, but in 2014 they'll support an effort to make the changes to stop it.
Trooper Robert Conrad with Iowa State Patrol says anything that takes your mind off the road, is dangerous.
"We have fatalities based on distractions," said Conrad. "Matter of fact, if you look at stats over the last ten years, the fatalities because of distractions have gone up in amazing numbers."
He says those numbers in recent years is getting law enforcement officials' attention.
The number one distraction for drivers are cell phones.
The current Iowa law prohibits anyone from using any hand-held electronic device to write, send or read a text while operating a vehicle.
However, that's only a secondary action, so officers can't pull you over solely based on that, but the new proposal Iowa law enforcement officers are strongly supporting would make that a primary action.
Which means an officer could ticket you just for that offense, without breaking any other traffic laws.
"Making it a primary law helps us," said Conrad. "There are other steps by looking at other states, I know some states have went to hands free, does that solve the whole problem: I don't believe it does because you still have that cognitive thinking. It's definitely an issue we have to get a hold of, and the unfortunate thing is, if can be a hard law to enforce."
He says because Iowa is not a hands-free cell phone state, drivers are able to dial numbers in their car, so officers have to watch long enough to make sure they're texting and not dialing a number.
While cell phones are one of the primary reasons for distracted driving Trooper Conrad says, they aren't the only ones.
"Distractions of other people in the car, the distraction of eating, grooming, putting on make up, reading a newspaper all those distraction have been there and I've stopped people for every single one of those."
The next Iowa legislative session is January 13, 2014, and they plan to make the proposal there.
There's still no word on how soon this could go into effect.
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