AAA and Iowa State Patrol Partner to End Distracted Driving

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  One of most dangerous things people can do behind the wheel is text and drive. 

According to the Iowa State Patrol, drivers are six times more likely to be in a crash while texting and driving compared to drinking and driving. Starting on Tuesday, the Iowa State Patrol and AAA are launching a program to prevent and hopefully stop the practice altogether--and it starts with young drivers. 

All around the metro, teens are getting their first taste of the open road. During driving lessons, they work on parallel parking, obeying the speed limit, and double checking the mirrors before they turn. But the biggest thing these students are learning today is not to text and drive. 

 “It isn’t worth it. It isn’t worth the headache that is causes,” said Dave Kopp. 

Kopp runs Drive with Cops, a driver's education program in Urbandale. Kopp spent 25 years with the Iowa State Patrol and has witnessed firsthand the dangers of texting and driving.

“A whole family is driving down the road and they get distracted and then they rear-ended a back of a semi. The parents got killed, the kids didn’t, but the parents got killed,” said Kopp. 

Those are the kind of stories he shares during class. They spend time each class on preventing texting and driving, and even have a simulator to give kids the virtual experience of the dangers of this habit. 

“Would you drive down the road with your eyes closed for the length of the football field? You’d say, 'no, you’re absurd. Why would anyone want to do that?' But that is exactly what you’re doing when you texting and driving,” said Kopp. 

For some kids, these examples are not enough stop them from picking their phones. There is good news, though: AAA and the Iowa State Patrol have a solution.

“When you seal it up, what it does is it blocks out all of the RF signal so there is no cell phone signal,” said John Roberts, field manager of AAA Iowa. 

CellSlip is a new device that will be handed out over the summer. It’s very simple to use; when you hop in the car, place your phone into the pouch and seal it up. No messages or updates will be received on the device until it is removed from the slip. CellSlip had a similar launch last year in Minnesota with AAA and the state patrol there. So far they have stopped 30,000 drivers from texting and driving. 

“When we first put in out in Minnesota, I believe it was last year, we got a lot of feedback and a lot of positive input for it that those people who are extreme with their phones, it takes their phone and puts it into a little nap so it’s not distracting you, and it really lets them focus on their driving,” said Roberts. 

The Iowa State Patrol will be giving out 1,000 of the slips this summer, and they can be picked up at any state patrol district office. AAA will also have a limited number of the slips.