Few texting while driving tickets given out in three years - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Few texting while driving tickets given out in three years


The 2010 Iowa law that banned texting while driving was meant to deter bad behavior behind the wheel.

However, authorities are finding out it's pretty tough to catch people in the act.

In fact, just ten tickets have been issued by the Sioux City police department since the law went into effect almost three-and-a-half years ago.

Two in 2010, four in 2011, three in 2012, and only one this year.

A spokesperson for the Woodbury County Sheriff's Department says they haven't issued any tickets for illegal cell phone use behind the wheel.

The Iowa State Patrol says their numbers are also low.  Not because people have stopped using their phones on the road, but because they're getting good at hiding it.

"It's very difficult for us to enforce," confirmed the public information officer for the Iowa State Patrol, Scott Bright.

Since 2010, the Iowa State Patrol reports writing 181 tickets for using an electronic device while driving. It's a secondary offence.

"There has to be something else, maybe speed or no seatbelt, or maybe an equipment violation," explained Safety Education Officer, Trooper John Farley.

That's just one of the challenges of enforcing the three-year-old law.

"We typically work out on the interstates and the state highways.  It's very difficult at times to witness a violation," said Farley.

Authorities say drivers have learned to hold their phones out of sight or get rid of them when they see law enforcement.

"We are a moving billboard so if somebody is in the act of texting while driving and they see, they're going to put it down," Farley added.

Even though tickets are rarely written, the law is deterring people from picking up their phones when they're behind the wheel, right?

"I don't think it has.  No," admitted Bright.

For that to happen, Bright says the state legislature would have to make this a primary offense.  Then troopers wouldn't have to rely on watching for swerving or speeding vehicles to make a stop.  He says other states that have that law on the books see a sharp decline in the number of wrecks caused by distracted driving.  But, just because you're more likely to get away with it in Iowa, doesn't mean you should.  The average text takes four to five seconds to type and send.

"You look down for four to five seconds, you've traveled the length of a football field, blindfolded," Bright explained.

Experts say this bad behavior is just as dangerous as drunk driving.

"The most important thing you can do while you're driving is driving," Farley added.

While we often hear about texting while driving, you can get a ticket for everything from checking your email to Facebook if you're behind the wheel, whether it's on a cell phone, smart phone, or tablet.



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