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Law Doesn’t Stop Texting And Driving Violators

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The Iowa State Patrol recently said it has issued a high number of texting and driving related tickets.

In order to see firsthand how troopers are enforcing the law, Channel 13's Jerad Giottonini rode along with Trooper Brian Moses.

Moses was checking drivers' speed and watching to make sure they were wearing a seatbelt as well as not texting and driving. In a matter of minutes after Jerad started traveling with him, Moses pulled over someone breaking the law.

Joe Jenson, the driver, received a $100 fine, which is just one of over 900 texting and driving citations issued by the Iowa State Patrol over the past nine months.

“There was no reason to lie, I was looking down at my phone. In reality, it’s not worth getting into an accident or getting anybody else hurt over," Ankeny resident Joe Jenson said.

That’s what is against the law.

“What you can’t do is you can’t read the text message, you can’t write the text message, that’s all a part of that 321-276,” Trooper Moses said. “At least in my experience, almost all of them have been up front and honest about it."

Trooper Moses has been with Iowa State Patrol for 12 years. Last year, Iowa’s texting and driving law changed to allow drivers to use a GPS and talk on the phone.

“I try to identify if I can actually see them holding a phone, and if I can see that phone, where is it, how many of their hands are on it, and then how long are they holding it for," he said.

But Moses said enforcing those changes isn't easy.

“If it was a hands-free state then there wouldn’t be any question for us because just like a seatbelt, I saw your seatbelt off, I know it was off, if I saw a phone in your hand then I know a phone was in your hand," he said.

According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, in 2017 there were more than 1,200 crashes caused by distracted driving. Jenson said he's glad he is not one of those statistics.

The American Civil Liberties Union is against the ban on texting and driving. The following statement from the ACLU says the law increases the amount of racial profiling done by police:

“We’re concerned that the new law will increase the amount of racial profiling done by police. It gives them one more pretext to stop people of color. It’s already been well-documented that police stop people of color at far higher rates than white drivers, and we believe the new law simply exacerbates that problem.

Many  people just assume that getting tough on texting while driving will reduce crashes. But actually, research shows that this type of texting-while-driving law doesn’t reduce crashes and may, in fact, slightly increase crashes. Drivers continue to text, but then also do things like lowering their hands (and therefore also their eyes) to avoid detection by police. This leads to an increase in accidents, rather than reducing them.”

Breaking the law or not, it's important to know your rights if you are pulled over. Click here for a list.