We have heard horror stories of people being killed because of distracted driving and we have all been told to not text and drive. In fact, in 2017, the Iowa Legislature made it loud and clear that you can be pulled over by the police if you are caught texting while driving. Let's look closely at exactly what the law says:
Iowa Code Section 321.276(2) states:
A person shall not use a hand-held electronic communication device to write, send, or view an electronic message while driving a motor vehicle unless the motor vehicle is at a complete stop off the traveled portion of the roadway.
Yes, besides the people you see texting and driving, all those people you see at traffic lights checking their phones are breaking the law and are subject to being issued a simple misdemeanor ticket and be required to pay a fine, surcharges and court costs.
April is Distracted Driving Month so let's review some sobering statistics about injuries and deaths caused by motor vehicle collisions.
- Of the deaths in the US, around 15% of them involved motorcycles and 2% involved bicyclists despite combined making up less than 1% of all vehicle miles traveled.
- In Iowa, last year there were 336 deaths due to car crashes and thousands of injuries.
- In the US, every year around 37,000 people die and 3 million are injured of which 2 million sustain permanent injuries. Of the deaths, approximately 8,000 are drivers ages 16-20.
- Worldwide approximately 1,250,000 die in crashes each year which is 3,287 per day and another 20-50 million are injured or disabled. More than half of all road traffic deaths occur between ages 15-44.
While no one knows for sure how many of these tragedies were caused by distracted driving, unfortunately, the number of people who send and receive text messages while driving continues to increase despite it being illegal in Iowa. What can you do to help stop or at least slow down these disturbing trends?
1. Be a good role model for your children, grandchildren and other people who ride in your car. If you think that you really need to read or send a text, pull into a safe spot in a parking lot to do so.
2. Help educate your family and friends by encouraging them to pay attention to the road.
3. Request our cell phone wallets that not only are useful to hold your credit cards, cash, your drivers' license, etc., but will provide you, your family and friends a constant reminder to Prevent a Tragedy- Don’t Drive Distracted. To request your cell phone wallets (up to 10 per household) go to www.QuitDD.com and fill out the Request Your Wallet information on the left of the cell phone wallet image: