Citations soar for Iowa's texting drivers

Published: Jul. 6, 2018 at 7:57 AM CDT
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Iowa State Patrol citations for Texting While Driving have jumped sixfold in the past year.

That spike comes in the wake of a new law that allows law enforcement officers to stop drivers who are texting. This past year, Troopers issued 1,131 citations for texting while driving. That is up from 182 citations the year before.

John Gaspar, a research scientist with the National Advanced Driving Simulator, found that it takes two seconds to impair a driver’s safety. It usually takes 5 seconds to send or read a text. At 55 mph, that is the same as driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.

The Center for Disease Control says that every day, an average of nine people are killed and more than 1,000 people are injured because of a distracted driver. Teens are affected most by texting while driving.

Troopers in the Iowa State Patrol have developed innovative methods for finding drivers who are texting. They take these violations seriously because it puts the texting driver at risk, along with everyone else on the road who might be affected by the distracted driver.

“Put down your phone and focus on your driving,” urges Sergeant Nathan Ludwig of the Iowa State Patrol. “Every day and every night, Troopers are on the lookout for drivers who are texting when they should be focused on their driving.”

The new Texting-While-Driving law that took effect one year ago made the activity a “primary” offense. That means an officer can stop a driver and issue a citation for texting while driving. Before last July, it was a “secondary” offense, meaning that officers could only issue a citation for texting while driving if the officer stopped the driver for some other offense.