Traffic safety officials are trying to get more motorists to focus their attention on the road rather than their cell phone. Kim Snook, with the Iowa Department of Transportation, says it’s pretty clear distracted drivers are to blame for an increase in crashes.
She notes fatal crashes in Iowa this year are up 19% over 2011. “We’re really seeing a lot of crashes that have no reason, just vehicles running off the road,” Snook says. Driver distraction contributes to one-quarter of all law enforcement reported traffic crashes, according to a report by the Allstate Foundation.
Snook says the Triple-A Foundation also observed more than 1,700 drivers and found that three out of four who used their cell phone while driving committed a traffic violation. “We know many years ago there were distractions, but with the more electronics out there, more (crashes) are happening,” Snook says.
The Iowa D.O.T. is asking motorists to take a “no phone challenge” by turning off their cell phone or putting out of reach while driving. Snook is encouraging Iowans to take the challenge for one week and then share their experience on the Iowa D.O.T.’s Facebook page.
“We want to know how hard it was and if they did use their phone…we want to find what the issues are and see if we can make changes to make more people aware of distracted driving,” Snook says. According to D.O.T. records, 192 people have been killed in traffic crashes on Iowa roads this year. That compares to 162 at this time last year.