Iowa House endorses texting while driving ban

The Iowa House moved one step further to officially ban texting while driving.  On February 24, a vote on a measure to prohibit texting while driving was approved by a vast majority at 64-31.

House File 2456 is looking to ban text messaging, instant messaging or email messaging while driving a motor vehicle.  Violators could face a simple misdemeanor and a $30 fine.  If texting causes an accident resulting in death or injury, motorists would face a fine up to $1000 and a license suspension up to 6 months could apply.

There wasn’t a consensus around the measure in the House.  Rep. Chris Rants thought the law should only apply to drivers under 18, feeling they are the most vulnerable and the more inclined to text and drive.

“You start by ensuring the safety of our young people,” Rants said. “My activities as I go down the road are determined by me. I’m an adult and I don’t need a paternalistic state telling me what to do.”

Lawmakers agreed that distracted driving was larger than just texting.  But as Rep. David Tjepkers explained:

“While there are many distractions for drivers, writing and sending text messages is deemed as the most dangerous,” said Tjepkes, a retired Highway Patrol trooper.

The law would ban texting while driving in a moving vehicle, but the practice would still be allowed if a driver stops on the side of the road.

The measure is now up to Senate for approval, with a tentative effective date of July 1, and many people think it will go through.

“I hope that in the future we strengthen this,” said Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad. “I believe this bill is going to pass and we’re taking some steps.”

Source:  The Associated Press, February 24, 2010

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