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Data Reveals Officers Failing to Ticket Iowans Texting While Driving

In 2010, to combat the dangers of distracted driving, the state of Iowa passed a law banning texting while driving. The law took effect in July of 2010, however, recently released numbers indicate that the texting ban may not have the teeth that safety advocates had hoped.

Specifically, the numbers show that police officers didn't even begin to administer tickets until July 2011. During the first year, officers issued only warnings to drivers violating the state's texting while driving law. The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that from July 2010 through June 2012, the Iowa State Patrol issued 97 warnings for texting.

However, in the eleven months since July 2011, the Iowa State Patrol only issued 96 tickets for texting while driving. But why?

Why So Little Enforcement?

Some say that the low number of tickets issued for texting while driving possibly could mean one of two things: Either Iowans heed the law and actually do not text while behind the wheel, or officers are having difficulty proving that drivers are actually texting while behind the wheel.

The Gazette reported that several Iowa police officers believe that the latter is the primary reason.

Additionally, Iowa's ban on texting while driving is only a secondary offense for adult drivers; meaning drivers can only be ticketed for texting if they are first pulled over for another offense such as speeding, weaving or running a stop sign. So drivers seen texting while driving but not breaking any other traffic violations cannot be pulled over and cited.

It remains to be seen whether Iowa's texting while driving law will be revisited by the state legislature. In the meantime, distracted driving will no doubt continue to cause auto accidents . Fortunately, the law allows individuals injured by texting drivers to seek legal recourse.

Source: Police ticket few Iowans for texting while driving, The Gazette, June 3, 2012.

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