Pete Grady says Iowa currently has some of the nation’s highest hurdles to clear when prosecutors go after distracted drivers accused of hitting bicyclists. He says legislators have done nothing to toughen laws.
“We had bills filed in 2015, 2011, 2008, and we haven’t had any movement on bicycle safety laws in any of those sessions of the legislature,” Grady said. More than 20 bicyclists have died after being struck by vehicles in Iowa over the past five years. At present, Grady says prosecutors need to show the vehicle operators knew their actions would cause harm.
“I don’t think anyone would define reckless behavior as requiring a better than 50 percent outcome for danger or harm, but that’s the standard we have now in Iowa,” Grady said. Most of the time, county attorneys go after lesser charges against drivers involved in serious bicycle accidents, resulting in fines, but no jail time, according to Grady. He notes most Iowans agree that texting while driving is very dangerous, but Grady doesn’t believe it’s treated that way under Iowa law.
A police officer in Iowa can’t pull over a motorist for simply texting while driving. Grady asks, “How serious is texting if the legislature says it’s not even serious enough to require that somebody be pulled over when it’s observed by a law enforcement officer?” Grady made his comments on Iowa Public Radio’s River to River program.
Thanks Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio