Texting and driving laws hard to enforce - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Texting and driving laws hard to enforce

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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - As a driver, you are four times more likely to crash if you're using your phone.

Studies show that those crashes are costing lives across the country every day.

It's the beginning of Texting and Driving Awareness Month, and law enforcement and Siouxland state officials say continuing the conversation on distracted driving is important.

It's estimated that 77% of the drivers on the road are texting, and while typing an average length text message, a driver travels the distance of a football field without looking at the road.

South Dakota will join the ranks of 42 other states that outlaw texting and driving in July, but as a secondary offense.

Law enforcement says the laws are still important because they raise awareness.

"It's become a very significant problem in the last few years," Trooper John Farley, Iowa State Patrol said.

Studies show, that more than 3/4 of drivers still use their phone on the road.

The biggest offenders of the texting and driving bans in Iowa and Nebraska may surprise you.

"The young people are getting the message. The trend that we're now seeing is our seasoned drivers, our drivers that have been behind the wheel for a few years. They understand the rules of the road, and they feel they have that confidence to do that multitasking on the road," Trooper Farley said.

Regardless of age or driving experience, law enforcement officers on the road say that texting and driving is a top cause of accidents on the road.

The laws against texting and driving in Siouxland states including South Dakota starting July 1st make it a secondary offense. That means you have to be pulled over for something else to receive a texting violation.

"The law is hard to enforce, being a secondary offense and to prove that the subject or person was actually texting at the time," Trooper Ron Tighe, Nebraska State Patrol said.

In Iowa, minors caught texting and driving immediately get a 30-day suspension of their license and a minimum fine of $127.50. A regular driver pays $100.50.

Nebraska drivers are fined $200 on top of the ticket for the primary offense.

South Dakota's fine will be $100.

Because the laws are so hard to enforce, officers say they give very few citations.

"I've issued warnings, but as of this time, no, I've never cited anybody for texting while driving," Trooper Tighe said.

The Sioux City Police Department has the same enforcement problems, which resulted in only three texting and driving tickets in 2012, and just one in 2013.

Law enforcement officers still say the bans are helping in one way, at least.

"If it wasn't a problem, there wouldn't be a need for the law. So I do believe that through time, through constant enforcement, and through constant education, people will get the message," Trooper Farley said.

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