Have the texting and driving laws made Iowa a safer place?

According to some groups, texting and driving laws have not made Iowa’s roads safer. It's one of the few states where it's a secondary law meaning that while it is illegal to text while driving, police can't stop a motorist unless another traffic violation has occurred. Read on to learn more texting and driving facts and about the current laws.

Why Texting Laws in Iowa Aren't Enough to Prevent Crashes

According to the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT), there were 31 deaths that occurred between 2001 and 2013 as a result of distracted driving with a phone or other device. Three of those fatalities happened in 2013. Also, distracted driving has caused more than 8,500 accidents.

Of course, it's likely that other crashes (both fatal and non-fatal) have occurred because of distractions. Some aren't known and others aren't reported. In fact, law enforcement issued less than 50 tickets in 2013 for texting while driving, according to the Gazette via Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Scott Bright. Yet officers see motorists texting behind the wheel all the time but cannot do anything about it because it’s a secondary law.

The DOT also reports texting and driving facts indicating that since passing of texting laws in July 2011, the number of crashes involving cell phones has gone up. Clearly, it hasn't been enough to stop drivers from engaging in these dangerous behaviors behind the wheel.

Efforts Sought to Crack Down on Distracted Drivers

In the first quarter of 2014, the Iowa Senate approved a bill that would crack down on distracted drivers. It would allow law enforcement to pull over and fine drivers using electronic communication. Original intentions were to target drivers caught texting. But it's widely recognized that engaging in any form of electronic communication (such as social media or email) is also dangerous when driving.

The bill further seeks to make this a primary law. This means drivers can receive a ticket without committing any other type of driving offense.

The only drivers Iowa has put restrictions on are teen drivers who some believe are more likely to text. They cannot text or use any type of electronic device while behind the wheel. But it's a problem that doesn't just affect young people.

What to Do When a Distracted Driver Causes a Crash

Understanding texting while driving facts and catching drivers texting or using a cell phone is one issue. What happens when these actions end up causing a crash? It's important to let the police know when responding to the scene of the accident that another motorist was texting. And if there were witnesses who saw the driver texting or talking on the phone, get their contact information. This will be helpful later on when filing a claim with the other driver's insurance company.

If the accident results in serious physical harm, it's important to seek medical attention. Be sure to gather your medical records and bills to help establish the extent and severity of your injuries, along with the costs. Keep track of missed time from work and other financial losses.

Finally, seek legal advice. An attorney can help prove fault by gathering the appropriate evidence. Legal counsel can also help determine the types of damages available. While you focus on healing and recovery, your attorney can deal with the insurance company. 

Walker, Billingsley & Bair helps Des Moines accident victims pursue fair compensation for their injuries. Call us at 888-435-9886 or use our online contact form.

Corey Walker
With 19 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.