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Legislature should pass bill to ban use of devices by drivers

Meyer wrote proposal to stop use of phones, computers

As Iowa’s legislators return to work in the state Capitol today, we urge them to quickly approve a bill authored by state Rep. Ann Meyer that will make traveling throughout the state safer for all.

Meyer, a Republican from Fort Dodge, wrote a bill that would make it illegal to use an electronic device while driving, unless it is in a hands-free or voice-activated mode. The measure applies to phones, tablets, computers and other electronic devices.

”Nothing takes your attention away from the road like an electronic device,” Meyer told The Messenger when she introduced the bill.

The bill makes using a device while driving a primary offense, which means a law enforcement officer could pull over a driver for that reason alone.

Violating the proposed law would result in a $100 fine. However, for the first six months law enforcement officers would issue warnings rather than citations.

Texting while driving was outlawed several years ago. Meyer’s bill would address other uses of electronic devices.

During our travels, we have all seen vehicles swerve on the road while the driver was looking down at some device. And just about everybody knows someone who has had a near-miss or an actual crash because a driver was paying attention to some gadget rather than the road. A constituent’s story about being rammed off the road by a driver so focused on her phone that she did not know she had caused a crash inspired Meyer to introduce the bill.

We are realistic enough to know that making it illegal to use an electronic device while driving will not automatically put an end to all such behavior. However, Meyer’s proposed law will reduce it, perhaps significantly And fewer people using devices while at the wheel will result in fewer crashes. Most importantly, it will result in fewer deaths and injuries.

The bill was approved by the House Transportation Committee in February. It is eligible for debate. We ask legislative leaders to put it on the debate calendar so it can be acted upon.

Representatives and senators should quickly pass the bill in these closing days of the 2020 legislative session and send it to Gov. Kim Reynolds.

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