Iowa texting ban takes effect July 1

iowa distracted driving law bill signedIowa became the 21st state to ban text messaging while driving as Gov. Chet Culver signed the plan into law.

The state’s public safety commissioner then presented the governor with a coffee mug that said: “Don’t Drive Intexticated.”

“We want to be the very best state in America when it comes to safe roads,” Culver said — although the Iowa texting ban was watered down to secondary-enforcement status as it made its way through the Legislature. (The measure was a compromise by the House and Senate.)

The law’s additional ban on use of all handheld electronic devices by teen drivers with learner’s permits carries primary enforcement, however, meaning police can stop and cite violators for that reason alone. With the secondary enforcement, motorists can’t be stopped simply for texting.

The law begins July 1, with a one-year warning (education) period.

Meanwhile, Kentucky legislators also approved a similar ban on texting and teen use of cell phones. The bill was sent to the governor on April 1 and is guaranteed his signature.

Iowa safety commissioner Eugene Meyer said at the signing: “We’ve now eliminated a very important distraction. Our roads are going to be dramatically safer.”

The law prohibits local governments from adopting stricter bans. Dubuque recently adopted a such a law, with the mayor noting the lack of state laws. “If we have to be the leaders, then we have to be the leaders,” he said at the time. Local lawmakers in some states with secondary enforcement mandate primary enforcement for their area.

“It’s a common-sense, bipartisan bill that will save lives, and keep Iowa drivers safe — especially our young people,” the Iowa governor said at the signing ceremony. He was joined by state troopers and police officers, as well as Democratic and Republican legislators who backed the bipartisan distracted driving bill (HF 2456)

72 percent of adults surveyed earlier in the year by the Iowa Poll/Des Moines Register responded that text messaging on the road should be a priority during the legislative season.

“The people of Iowa have had it,” said Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City. “They don’t want people texting and driving.”


  1. If you think signing a bill to make it illegal will stop it from happening, you are sorely mistaken, and adding talking on the phone to it is even worse. Almost every time I see an officer he is on a cell phone. It all just comes down to who has taught the driver how to handle the responsibility of driving. Speeding is illegal, people still speed. Not wearing a seatbelt is illegal, some people still choose to not wear them. Just because you make a law saying not to do it doesn’t mean anyone will change their ways. There are many other things that should be addressed on the topic of driving other than texting.

  2. Bob Morgan says:

    Thank You Thank you Thank You – This decision was the right one. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to deal with distracted drivers while messing with their phone – just ridiculous. No phonecall or text is that important. I saw a woman the other day texting while driving and had a baby in the back seat.. unbelievable ! she spent as much time watching the road as she did looking down at her phone.

  3. I completely disagree. How is talking on the phone any more distracting then talking to a passenger in the car? whats next complete silence while the vehicle is in motion? no radios, its a distraction too, people actually sing along with the music! I agree that people should not text and drive. if they were going to be writing to someone they could just as easily call them. besides that texting is completely distracting, while talking isnt. The majority of people drive with only one hand so saying that is part of the reason would be a complete lie. They can still have hands free so what is the point of banning holding your phone to your ear? its rediculous and just one more thing that is blown out of preportion by people into politics.

  4. Raymond H says:

    I really wish they would take this much further. It should be made a primary law and not just for teen drivers. I haven’t noticed people texting so much as talking on the phone are usually the ones that pull out in front of you, cross the center line, etc. I would like to see them make talking on the cell hone while driving the same penalties as they have for drunk drivers, including a mandatory jail visit. Lets get these dangerous behaviors stopped before the accidents happen.

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