The first year of a measure designed to crackdown on distracted driving in Iowa resulted in State Patrol Troopers issuing more than 1,100 citations to motorists.

A law that made texting while driving a “primary” offense took effect on July 1, 2017. “Since that time, Troopers in Iowa have written 1,131 citations for texting while driving,” according to Sergeant Nate Ludwig. “That compares to only 182 violations the year before, when it was a secondary violation.”  Prior to the last year, officers could only issue a citation for texting while driving if the officer stopped the driver for another offense.

The figure released today by the patrol indicates Troopers, over the last year – on average, issued three texting while driving citations per day. “Hopefully these numbers will make an awareness for people to know that it is still happening, we’re on the lookout for it, and we need these numbers to go back down,” Ludwig says. The tally only covers the tickets handed out by the Patrol, NOT the citations also issued by local police and sheriff’s deputies across Iowa.

“I think the interesting thing would be to tally every single agency in the state of Iowa, just to see how big of a problem it really is,” Ludwig says. “Because, if in one year just one agency is writing 1,131 tickets, it would be interesting to see…of all the agencies – city and county – how many tickets there would be.” Ludwig says most motorists in Iowa are aware of the new law, but many don’t have a full understanding of it.

“People still think that they can pull up to a stop sign or stop light, grab their phone, and surf the net or send a text message or receive a message,” Ludwig says. “The state law is you have to be off the traveled portion (of the road) and at a complete stop in order to use your phone to do those specific things.”

Motorists who are caught texting while driving in Iowa can face a fine of over $100.