July 22, 2014

Iowa Senate votes to make texting while driving a primary offense for adults

The Iowa Senate has approved a bill that would allow police to pull over adults who they suspect are texting while driving.

Under current Iowa law, teenagers are not allowed to text behind the wheel, but texting while driving is a secondary offense for adults, meaning authorities have to see another offense, like speeding, before they can pull an adult over for texting. Senator Tim Kapucian, a Republican from Hawkeye, said texting while driving has become an epidemic.

“It’s a problem that we need to address, we should have addressed years ago,” Kapucian says. “I thought (with) technology, we’d grow our way out of it. Didn’t happen. It’s gotten worse.”

Senator Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale, opposed the bill.

“How much do we have to add to the code book of Iowa to protect the people of Iowa from their stupidity?” Zaun said. “…I mean, really, it’s going to come down to where we’re going to have to bubble wrap everybody to protect them.”

The bill passed by an overwhelming 41-7 vote. Senator Sandy Greiner, a Republican from Washington, voted against the bill because responding to a text while sitting at a stoplight would be against the proposed law.

“To call it a moving violation when you’re at a dead stop makes no sense at all to me,” Greiner said.

Senator Tod Bowman, a Democrat from Maquoketa, argued texting on the road is dangerous, whether the car’s moving or not.

“People sitting at stop signs, sitting at red lights, disrupting the natural flow of traffic, so it is a moving violation,” Bowman said.

Bowman called the bill a “narrowly tailored,” bipartisan effort to advance a bill that could clear the Republican-led House and get the Republican governor’s approval. The bill must clear a House committee by Friday to remain eligible for the legislature’s consideration this year.