Gary Worthan

A bill ready for debate in both the House and Senate would make it illegal for motorists in Iowa to use a hand-held electronic device – like a cell phone – while driving.

“We’re just looking at a situation where it’s been determined that using a hand-held device is six times more troublesome than a drunk driver,” said Representative Gary Worthan, a Republican from Storm Lake.

Worthan guided the bill through a committee this afternoon. However, the House Transportation Committee has voted to have a one year “grace period” before the law takes effect. That means motorists caught texting or Snap Chatting while driving would be issued a warning ticket instead for the law’s first year.

The bill has a few critics, like Representative Rick Olson, a Democrat from Des Moines.

“You see folks that have their dogs riding on their lap, folks putting on make-up…eating a ‘Big Mac,’ adjusting their radio, lighting a cigarette,” Olson said during House Transportation Committee debate. “It doesn’t address that.”

Olson argues state law should, instead, require drivers to use “due care” when on the road.