Governor Culver says he’s confident a bill will emerge from the Iowa legislature that will ban the practice of writing or sending text messages while driving. “We’re moving forward and we’re making some progress and it’s not uncommon to have to make some changes to legislation throughout the process,” Culver says.

On Monday night the Iowa House voted only to make it illegal for 16- and 17-year-olds to text or play video games while they’re behind the wheel. That’s at odds with the state senate which rejected that teen-only proposal this afternoon.  The Iowa Senate has previously endorsed the idea of banning the reading and sending of text messages while driving, regardless of the driver’s age.

“I’m going to continue to work with legislators to try to get the bill to exactly where it needs to be and we want to be in compliance, basically, with the federal Department of Transportation,” Culver says. “And so we’ll keep pushing to try to make that happen.”

The governor suggests the teen-only texting ban needs “some modifications” to align the bill with new federal guidelines.

“We don’t want to put federal funds at stake,” Culver says.  A spokesman for the governor says it’s unclear how much money might be withheld if the state doesn’t enact a texting ban. 

In January, Culver said a ban on texting while driving was a “reasonable” way to address the distraction of reading or sending electronic messages. “You know, you can’t mess around with distracted drivers. I mean, we want this to apply to anyone that’s texting because it’s dangerous if they text and drive, so we’re making progress,” Culver said today. “The good news is (the bill) is still very much alive and I’ll work with the legislators to try to get it to where it needs to be before it gets to my desk.”