DES MOINES, Iowa -- On Tuesday, Governor Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation to name this week “End Distracted Driving Week” in Iowa.
The Iowa State Patrol said the number of texting and driving citations has gone down from 450 last year to about 330 this year.
“We’re seeing our accidents go up so a majority of the accidents are attributed to distracted driving. Just because we aren’t stopping the cars and writing citations for doing it, doesn’t mean people have stopped doing it because crashes are going up,” Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Nathan Ludwig said.
The state patrol, along with Farm Bureau Insurance, hopes to continue to educate drivers about the dangers of distracted driving through the proclamation.
“Nationally, distracted driving claimed 3,166 individuals in 2017 alone,” Reynolds said as she signed the proclamation.
The governor said even though legislation like the hands-free bill didn’t land on her desk yet, she is still working toward change.
“They continue to collect data. I think a lot of the statistics that I read in the proclamation indicate that we are seeing more and more and they have dated to point to. So I think it just makes sense and sometimes that’s unfortunately just the legislative process so you talk about it, you help educate Iowans, you give people an opportunity to weigh in and then next year they come back and they’re able to get that through," Reynolds said.
Ludwig said many drivers still don’t get the picture and a hands-free bill might be the answer.
“I think there’s 17 or 18 states right now that have a hands-free bill so you know it’d be easier to enforce, but that’s up to the legislature. I think it may come down the road, but you don’t need a law to tell you common sense. We just want people to get the phone out of their hand,” Ludwig said.
Ludwig said he is not sure what it would take to pass a bill like that through the next legislative session.
“As you see more and more states do it and as you see motorists and individuals don’t get the picture after secondary, after primary and a majority of our accidents are still attributed to it, I think it’s going to make the public wake up and finally realize that you need a law to tell people what to do with it,” Ludwig said.