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.
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§321.210, subsection 2, paragraph e, Code 2020, is amended by striking the paragraph.
Section 321.276, subsection 1, Code 2020, is amended by striking the subsection and inserting in lieu thereof the following:
. For purposes of this section:
a. “Electronic communication device” means an electronic device capable of being used to compose, send, receive, or read an electronic message. “Electronic communication device” includes but is not limited to a telephone, personal digital assistant, and portable or mobile computer.
b. “Voice-activated or hands-free mode” means an attachment, accessory, application, wireless connection, or built-in feature of an electronic communication device or motor vehicle that allows a person to use verbal or single-touch commands to activate or deactivate the device or a function or software application of the device. “Voice-activated or hands-free mode” does not include accessing non-navigation video content, engaging in a video call, accessing or engaging in video streaming, accessing gaming data, or reading an electronic message.
Section 321.276, subsections 2, 3, and 4, Code 2020, are amended to read as follows:
2. A person shall not use an electronic communication device while driving a motor vehicle unless the motor vehicle is at a complete stop off the traveled portion of the roadway.
a. A person does not violate this section by using an electronic communication device in a voice-activated or hands-free mode.
b. The provisions of this subsection relating to the use of an electronic communication device do not apply to the following persons:
(1) A member of a public safety agency, as defined in section 34.1, performing official duties.
(2) A health care professional in the course of an emergency situation.
(3) A person receiving safety-related information including emergency or weather alerts.
(4) A person using an electronic communication device for the purpose of reporting an emergency situation, including any continued communication with emergency personnel during the emergency situation.
3. Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize a peace officer to confiscate an electronic communication device from the driver or occupant of a motor vehicle.
4. a. A person convicted of a violation of this section is guilty of a simple misdemeanor punishable as a scheduled violation under section 805.8A, subsection 14, paragraph “l”.
b. A violation of this section shall be considered a moving violation for purposes of this chapter or rules adopted pursuant to this chapter.
c. Notwithstanding paragraphs “a” and “b” , a peace officer shall issue a warning memorandum in lieu of a citation to a person for violating this section. This paragraph is repealed on January 1, 2022.
Section 321.555, subsection 2, Code 2020, is amended to read as follows:
2. Six or more of any separate and distinct offenses within a two-year period in the operation of a motor vehicle, which are required to be reported to the department by section 321.491 or chapter 321C, except equipment violations, parking violations as defined in section 321.210, violations of registration laws, violations of sections 321.445 and 321.446, violations of section 321.276, operating a vehicle with an expired license or permit, failure to appear, weights and measures violations and speeding violations of less than fifteen miles per hour over the legal speed limit.
Section 707.6A, subsection 2, paragraph a, subparagraphs (1), (2), and (3), Code 2020, are amended by striking the subparagraphs and inserting in lieu thereof the following:
(1) For purposes of this paragraph “a”, a person’s use of an electronic communication device while driving a motor vehicle shall be considered prima facie evidence that the person was driving the motor vehicle in a reckless manner with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property, in violation of section 321.277.
(2) Subparagraph (1) does not apply to any of the following:
(a) A member of a public safety agency, as defined in section 34.1, performing official duties.
(b) A health care professional in the course of an emergency situation.
(c) A person receiving safety-related information including emergency or weather alerts.
(d) A person using an electronic communication device for the purpose of reporting an emergency situation, including any continued communication with emergency personnel during the emergency situation.
(e) A person using an electronic communication device in a voice-activated or hands-free mode.
(3) For purposes of this paragraph “a”, the following definitions apply:
(a) “Electronic communication device” means the same as defined in section 321.276.
(b) “Voice-activated or hands-free mode” means the same as defined in section 321.276.
Section 805.8A, subsection 14, paragraph l, Code 2020, is amended to read as follows:
l. Use of electronic communication device while driving violations. For violations under section 321.276, the scheduled fine is one hundred dollars.
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