Iowa State Patrol Trooper Alex Dinkla admits it can be difficult for law enforcement officers to see obvious signs of texting – especially on interstates and highways when vehicles are moving so fast.
Dinkla says the ultimate goal is increasing roadway safety, so simply warning drivers about the dangers of texting and driving should go a long way.
“Our statistics already show that a person driving distracted, texting and driving, looks away from the steering wheel for approximately five seconds – that is the distance of covering a full length football field at 55 miles an hour,” Dinkla said. “So, that is a long time for a person to be looking away from their steering wheel that they could possibly have a really bad accident.”
The new law still lets people use an electronic device to talk or to navigate with some sort of GPS app. Dinkla said officers will need solid evidence if a driver wants to challenge a texting ticket in court. “All of our vehicles are equipped with video cameras, so anytime we would see a person who might be texting and driving, those things might be videotaped and offered as evidence,” Dinkla said. “Also, we will ask a driver, ‘were you texting and driving?’ Those admissions would be used as well.”
Recently, the State Patrol issued a warning that troopers may be disguising themselves in order to catch distracted drivers. Dinkla suggested that might involve plain clothes officers in unmarked vehicles or a trooper monitoring traffic from a bulldozer in a construction zone. The fine for a texting-while-driving ticket is $30.