One week from today, a new state law takes effect that will ban texting while driving. Gail Weinholzer, spokeswoman for Triple-A-Iowa, says that form of thumb-typed communication via mobile device is extremely dangerous and the new statewide ban will apply to every motorist.
“The text ban is effective for all drivers in Iowa, driving through Iowa, effective July 1st, and that involves the act of composing, reading or sending text messages,” Weinholzer says. “That’s in effect for all drivers, regardless of age. The only folks that are exempt are certain types of emergency and professional drivers.” She says violators will face a $30 fine, but if there’s an accident with a serious injury or death, the texter can face a fine up to one-thousand dollars and a license suspension up to 180 days.
“We’re in full support of a text ban across the nation, in fact, 27 states have passed it, along with the District of Columbia and we’re hoping the other 23 states get on board,” Weinholzer says. “Texting while driving is a particularly dangerous distraction.” A federal study finds texting while driving was responsible for nearly 6,000 deaths and a half-million injuries nationwide last year. Weinholzer says studies have also found that people who text while driving are more than 20 times more likely to be involved in crashes than non-distracted drivers.
“When you’re driving down the road at 50, 60 miles an hour, if you’re on the interstate, you’re making decisions the entire time as it applies to other cars and speeds and exits and merging vehicles,” Weinholzer says. “You really need to be focused on the act of driving and not being distracted by texting.”
Under the Iowa law, texting while driving will be classified as a secondary offense, which means you can only be stopped and ticketed when committing another traffic offense. For novice drivers, texting while driving will be classified as a primary offense, which means you can be pulled over and ticketed based on texting alone.
While the texting ban applies to virtually all drivers, those drivers under 18 on “provisional” licenses will also be banned from talking on cell phones while behind the wheel, as of July 1st.