Law enforcement reacts to new texting and driving law - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Law enforcement reacts to new texting and driving law

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Governor Branstad signed a bill into law this morning aiming to make Iowa roads safer. 

The law will go into effect on July 1, making it a primary offense to text and drive, meaning officers can pull someone over if they see them texting while on the road. 

A fine of $30 can be issued for texting behind the wheel. 

"By the time you add surcharge and court cost and stuff like that, it's $100 and 50 cents," says Trooper Bob Conrad with the Iowa State Patrol. 

Iowa saw more than 400 traffic deaths last year alone. 
 "A lot of that is due to distracted driving," says Greg Buelow, spokesperson for the Cedar Rapids Police Department. 

The law doesn't include making phone calls or using GPS which is why Buelow says it could be hard to tell the difference in whether someone is texting or dialing up a phone call. 

  "Unless that officer gets a real good view of that maybe next to them and see's them typing in a message or something like that. You know obviously a motorist could say hey I was just calling somebody," he told us. 

Trooper Conrad echos the idea he would rather see phones banned while driving altogether.
"We would like to see the hands free and I'm not complaining. We would like to see a hands free just because it's easier to enforce that," he says. 

While not a hands free law we are told this new legislation is a step in the right direction. 
    "At a minimum, does it allow law enforcement officials a lawful way to stop someone and warn them that their driving could be dangerous? Yes it does," Buelow says. 

It's not only texting that officers could pull you over for but things like typing an email, browsing the internet, using social media or playing a game are also not allowed under the law and this includes while being stopped at the red light. 

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