Iowa texting ban kicks in Thursday - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Iowa texting ban kicks in Thursday

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -- "It can wait." That's Iowa Governor Chet Culver's message to drivers, texting behind the wheel. And starting Thursday, it'll have to wait, under Iowa law.

We live in an age of instant communication. Whether we're at work, school, or in the car, most people are reachable 24/7 by cell phone. Pretty soon though, part of that access will be legally cut off.

"Most people have seen it too. Someone's got their phone up there, it's clear that they're texting," said Sioux City Police officer Jeremy McClure.

Whether it's weaving, or jerky movements, police say there's no argument: texting while driving is a major danger.

"There's been times when officers have pulled over people and thought they were drinking and driving and it turns out they were on their cell phone," McClure said.

Starting July 1, if you're sending or reading texts, or e-mailing from your phone in Iowa, you're breaking the law. But, you can't be stopped solely on the suspicion of texting. Officers will need a primary offense, like speeding, to pull you over. Then, if they believe texting played a factor in the offense, you could also be ticketed for that.

McClure says, "It'll take a little getting used to but I think people will get used to it and it's not going to be that big of a problem for us to have to enforce."

Newer drivers face even tougher restrictions under the new law. Those with intermediate drivers licenses won't even be able to talk on the phone while driving.

Sioux City Community Schools Traffic Education Coordinator Don Oberle says, "I think it's an excellent part of the law because of the fact that new drivers, they don't have the experience yet."

Distracted driving has been part of Sioux City schools' curriculum for years now, and Iowa's texting ban will further solidify its importance.

Oberle says, "Now being part of the law, we're definitely stressing it more than ever."

Oberle hopes the law will force parents and other older influences, set a good example for less experienced drivers.

Oberle says, "Situations can develop so quickly in the car."

While the law goes into effect July 1, officers will only be handing out warnings for the first year. But starting next July, if you're caught texting, it'll be a $30 citation.

Another law going into the books will force everyone under the age of 18 in the back seat of the vehicle to put on a seat belt, or face a fine.

Online Reporter: Zach Tecklenburg

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