Any type of distracted driving in Iowa is dangerous, as most distractive behaviors divert the motorist’s eyes, hands and mind away from the task of operating a motor vehicle. According to national distracted driving facts, inattentive motorists each kill approximately nine individuals day and more than 1,000 sustain injuries.

Furthermore, driver distractedness was the contributing factor in 3,477 traffic fatalities in 2015, 3,328 in 2012 and 3,092 in 2010. Additionally, inattentive motorists were responsible for the injuries of 391,000 individuals in 2015, 424,000 in 2012 and 416,000 in 2010.

To prevent future distracted driving accidents and fatalities, many states including Iowa have enacted their own bans on certain types of cell phone use. Some states are stricter than others, prohibiting drivers from using any type of handheld mobile device unless they use a hands-free communication component. To learn about the texting and driving laws in IA, review the information below.

What is distracted driving in Iowa?

While Iowa texting while driving laws pertain to the act of reading and writing text messages from behind the wheel of a moving automobile, any form of multitasking is dangerous amongst motorists. If motorists engage in any type of activity that distracts them from focusing on the road ahead of them, then they are more likely to drive over the posted speed limit, hit another driver or pedestrian or veer into another lane.

For instance, various types of driving distractions include talking on the phone, communicating with other passengers, adjusting the radio, programming a GPS device or eating and drinking.

According to local facts about distracted driving in IA, 518 crashes were caused by driver distractedness in 2001. Since 2001, this number has steadily increased. For instance, there were 761 distraction-related crashes in 2009, 1,100 in 2015 and 1,207 in 2017. During the year 2017, there were 645 injuries and 10 fatalities. In 2015, there were 601 injuries and 14 fatalities.

Distracted Driving Laws in Iowa for Handheld Devices

Under the Iowa distracted driving law, motorists are not prohibited from using handheld cell phones for GPS navigation purposes. Additionally, the act of talking on the phone while driving is legal, as long as motorists are at least 18 years of age.

Texting and Driving Laws in Iowa

Texting while driving in IA is illegal amongst all motorists in the state, regardless of age and driver history. As part of the state’s efforts to stop distracted driving, drivers cannot use any type of cell phone or portable electronic device to view, write and send text messages or emails from behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.

However, motorists may view or send text messages if their vehicle is pulled away from the roadway and stopped in a safe area. Moreover, emergency health care professionals and public safety agents are exempt from the law that prohibits the reading of text messages while driving. Additionally, certain drivers who need to receive emergency-, weather- or traffic-related alerts may read text messages while driving a vehicle.

Iowa Laws on Distracted Driving for Novice Drivers

While texting and driving in IA is prohibited amongst all motorists in the state, minors who are younger than 18 years of age are also banned from using any type of wireless communication device while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. As an exception, however, minors may use a cell phone if their vehicle is stopped and pulled away from the roadway or if their electronic device is permanently installed in the vehicle.

Iowa Distracted Driving Regulations for CDL Holders

Texting while driving in Iowa is prohibited amongst all commercial vehicle operators, school bus drivers and drivers of standard passenger vehicles. However, commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders must also follow the new regulations under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

For instance, the FMCSA prohibits CDL holders from using handheld mobile devices whenever a commercial vehicle is in motion unless they use their device’s speakerphone function, an earpiece or another type of hands-free component. If CDL holders violate this texting and driving law, then they may need to pay a fine of up to $2,750. Moreover, multiple violations may result in the suspension of CDL credentials.

Distracted Driving Penalties in Iowa

If motorists break any texting while driving laws in IA, then they will need to pay a penalty fee of $30 for the violation of viewing, writing or sending an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle. The violation will also be recorded on their driving record.

However, if a texting while driving violation results in the death of another individual, then motorists may face criminal charges. In this case, drivers may need to pay a penalty fee of up to $10,000 and they may be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving in Iowa

Many types of driving distractions may seem harmless but most are dangerous to drivers, passengers and other motorists or pedestrians on the road. However, a bit of planning can help motorists to operate a vehicle more safely and with fewer distractions. To prevent texting and driving accidents in IA, motorists may:

  • Download a text, call and notification-blocking smartphone application such as AT&T DriveMode or On My Way (OMW).
  • Enter coordinates into navigation devices before pulling the vehicle onto a public road.
  • Mount phones or other electronic devices to the vehicle’s dashboard for safer handling.
  • Pull the vehicle over to a safe location before taking any phone calls.
  • Secure all pets and children near the back of the vehicle to reduce any distracting noises or conversations.
  • Limit conversations with other passengers.
  • Avoid distractive behaviors such as eating, drinking, grooming or smoking while driving.
Last updated on Friday, March 15 2019.

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