Starting this morning, anyone caught texting while driving in Iowa will face a fine. The state’s “Distracted Driving Law” took effect last July 1st, mandating that only warnings be issued for the first year.
When court costs are added to the $30 fine, the full bill could be $100. Senior Trooper Mark Domino of the Iowa State Patrol’s Mason City Post says people need to understand it’s dangerous to text while driving.
He says people know wearing a seat belt can save someone’s life in a crash and they need to realize texting while driving is as bad as driving drunk. He recommends if you need to use your cell phone that you pull over to the side of the road. Domino says he was responding to an accident earlier this week and came across a driver en route who clearly was texting while driving.
He says he had his lights and siren on and he encountered a guy who was in the left lane, with his head down, obviously texting while driving and oblivious to his surroundings on the road. “Use your brain and don’t use your phone,” he says. Domino says you should let your front-seat passenger worry about all the stuff that’s not happening on the road.
He says the term “riding shotgun” means a lot more now, since the front-seat passenger should be the one dealing with things like cell phones, the radio and controlling other passengers in the vehicle. “When you’re driving, drive, and that’s your job,” he says.
Domino admits enforcing the law is going to be the tough part, since it’s classified as a secondary law. That means an officer can’t pull you over just on the suspicion of texting while driving.
By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City