January 27, 2020

Ban Handheld Phones While Driving

We have four bills currently seeking to ban handheld cell phones while driving. All are very similar but have slight differences in fines, language, or sponsors.


House and Senate Subcommittees have booth met and will advance the bill to the Transportation Committees. There were some concerns raised in the House subcommittee. Those concerns included conflicts with amateur radio/CB radio definitions, defining in-dash systems differently, and concerns around racial profiling. The subcommittee will consider amendments as the bill is brought forward to the committee.


Twenty-one states now ban hand-held cell phone use.  Iowa needs to join those states and pass a law to ban cell phone use while driving unless using the phone in hands-free mode.  Contact your legislator and let them know you want to ban handheld phones while driving.

House File 2119, Senate File 2248, and Senate File 76 will require cell phone use while driving to be in hands-free mode.  Any of these bills are a step in the right direction to reduce distracted driving.  

Contact your legislator and ask them to ban handheld cell phones while driving.


Using a cellphone while driving increases crash risk. The drivers who spent the greatest amount of their driving time interacting with a cellphone also had the highest rates of near-crashes and crashes. Researchers have consistently linked texting or otherwise manipulating a cellphone to increased risk. Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing, and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices tripled the risk of getting into a crash.

Based on national police-reported data on fatal crashes in the United States during 2017, 3,166 people died in motor vehicle crashes in which distraction was deemed a contributing factor. That is about 9 percent of all crash deaths. 

The Iowa DOT has compiled traffic crash data involving distracted driving. Look at the chart that shows increasing distracted driving fatalities at https://iowadot.gov/mvd/stats/distracted.pdf.

Drivers are distracted by things other than cellphones, so prohibiting phone use will not eliminate distracted driving. However, research has documented that bans on hand-held phone use reduce overall phone use.