IOWA (KWWL) – Using your phone while driving could soon be illegal unless it’s connected to a hands-free device.
Senate File 76 advanced through an Iowa Senate subcommittee February 7 and is now recommended for amendment and passage by the subcommittee.
The bill was introduced by Muscatine Republican Senator Mark Lofgren and aims to make Iowa roads safer.
It doesn’t take long to spot someone using their cell phone on the road and it’s something many people don’t think about.
Iowa already has a ban on texting-while-driving, but the new bill would prohibit any type of cell phone use in a car by the driver that isn’t hands-free.
Iowa State Patrol trooper David Goreham said they can’t comment on pending laws, but will enforce whatever is passed.
“The way the law is written right now, it is more a difficult law to enforce. Unless you can specifically prove someone is texting on their phone, it’s a hard case,” Goreham said.
If passed, Iowa would join 16 other states and Washington D.C. In having a hands-free law.
Trooper Goreham said he spends a lot of time teaching young drivers and said even though it’s not illegal now, he tells them to put it down and stay focused on the road.
“Three out of four people on their cell phone commit a traffic violation whether it be speeding, swerving in their lane, running a stop sign,” he said.
The latest data from the Iowa Department of Transportation is from 2017. A total of 1,207 accidents were attributed to distracted driving by the use of cell phones and other devices. There were also 10 deaths as a result of those crashes.
If passed, the fine outlined in the bill would be $100. However it would go up to $500 if your use of a device causes a serious injury. If it causes a death, the fine then goes up to $1,000.