Trooper Alex Dinkla says drivers should think twice about picking up their cell phone, even if they don’t see a marked state patrol vehicle in the area.
Troopers in each district are coming up with ways to disguise themselves in order to catch drivers breaking the new law. “In eastern Iowa, they’re doing an effort with an undercover RV…so troopers will be riding in the motor home and looking out the window as they head down the interstate, looking for those violations,” Dinkla said. “We might have a trooper sitting on a bulldozer in a construction zone area.”
The Iowa State Patrol is also getting help from DNR officers in their marked DNR trucks. They’re calling troopers if they spot texting drivers. According to Dinkla, these initiatives are all about increasing safety on Iowa’s roads.
“That is ultimately our goal whenever we’re out enforcing these violations – we are trying to reduce accidents and reduce fatality accidents,” Dinkla said. Motorists are often on the lookout for marked law enforcement vehicles so they can quickly put their phone down until the uniformed officers are no longer in sight. Dinkla is hoping the threat of an undercover or disguised officer will encourage motorists to keep their focus on the road at all times.
“If they think about that device and they’re going to grab that device, they might think twice about it, because they never know where an officer might be looking from,” Dinkla said. The state law, which took effect July 1, makes text and app use a primary offense, meaning police can pull over and ticket a driver who is spotted texting or checking email with their phone.
The fine for a texting-while-driving ticket is $30.