Iowa police say texting and driving bans are hard to enforce - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Iowa police say texting and driving bans are hard to enforce

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KEOKUK, Ia. (WGEM) - Illinois, Missouri and Iowa have laws on the books for texting and driving.

In Iowa, police say because of  the way the law is written, they have a hard time enforcing it.

Iowa state troopers only issued 180 tickets statewide for texting and driving last year, and Keokuk police say they rarely write tickets for the offense.

In Iowa, police have to stop drivers for another violation before they can ticket for you for texting and driving. That's why officials said the law isn't strict enough.

Heather Hutcherson said she stopped texting and driving after a cop once asked her to stop. It was only a friendly reminder. But even if the officer wanted to give her a ticket, he couldn't.

"He said because I had never swerved, I hadn't sped or go far below the speed limit that he would let me slide and ask that I never text and drive again," said Hutcherson.

Texting and driving in Iowa is considered a secondary offense, meaning people can't be pulled over just because they're texting.

 "I don't ever remember reviewing a citation for texting and driving," said Keokuk Captain Robert Hafliger.

Hafliger said the law is frustrating for officers.

"They hang up their phone and then they quit what they're doing. Then, of course, you didn't actually see them," said Hafliger. "You locked them in on radar if they were speeding or you see them run a red light at 40, 45 miles an hour, then obviously you're not going to see it."

Hafliger said he thinks more people would stop texting and driving if it was changed to a primary offense.

 "If you see it, that's your probable cause," Hafliger said. "You can make the investigative stop and of course you can enforce the law."

Hutcherson now pulls over to text, but thinks more needs to be done to make sure others do the same.

"I think it would make it a lot safer for drivers if they would go ahead and make it a number one priority just like seat belts," said Hutcherson.

Even though many police agencies are in favor of  making distracted driving a primary offense in Iowa, there is currently no action at the statehouse to make that change.

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