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Facts about distracted driving in Iowa

On roadways in Des Moines and throughout the state of Iowa, distracted driving is becoming a growing concern. According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, the amount of distracted driving-related vehicle accidents, both minor and major, increased from 518 in 2001 to 1,230 in 2016. The increase over this 15-year period has prompted Des Moines legislators to produce a more aggressive texting while driving law, which gives more authority to law enforcement to stop drivers who they suspect are texting or using an electronic device.

The amount of both minor and major injuries has also increased during the 15-year period from 357 injuries and one death in 2001 to 603 injuries and 13 deaths in 2016. With summer, holidays, vacations and graduations, there are typically more central Iowan residents driving, which may result in more distracted driving-related crashes, some of which could be fatal.

While tougher laws will give police authority to pull over suspected distracted drivers, drivers might try to say they were making a phone call or finding a number on their phones rather than admitting to texting. Further, when drivers see a law enforcement officer, they typically stop their cell phone activity immediately. Therefore, officers will probably have a difficult time trying to stop people from texting while driving. However, if it is clear that an officer finds a driver using an electronic device to text or play games, it could result in less distracted driving-related crashes. Whenever police use unmarked vehicles, they have observed that the majority of drivers are using electronic devices.

For the safety of themselves and others, drivers should focus all their attention on the road and refrain from using anything that diverts their attention, such as texting, applying makeup or tending to children. Those injured in a car wreck caused by a distracted driver might want to speak with a personal injury attorney about seeking compensation for their losses.

Source: www.timesrepublican.com, "Deputy: Distracted, impaired driving a concern", Jeff Hutton, May 6, 2017

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