Thanks to a new state law, the Iowa State Patrol is handing out more tickets to people who are texting while driving. Officers can now pull over drivers just for texting. Before, they could only issue tickets for texting and driving when pulling drivers over for a different offense.
The new Iowa law has resulted in six times as many tickets issued this year than in 2017.
Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Nathan Ludwig wants to dispel misconceptions about texting and driving.
"I think the myth is that people pull up to a traffic light or a stop sign, they can automatically grab their phone and start texting. But the law is that you must be off the travel portion of the road, adequately stopped, before you can write, send, or receive a text message."
Research by the National Advanced Driving Simulator shows it takes just two seconds to impair a driver's safety. But it takes five seconds or longer to send or read a text. And at 55 miles-per-hour, a vehicle travels the length of a football field in that amount of time.
Sergeant Ludwig says his department uses simple tactics to ticket drivers at red lights.
"In the western suburbs of Des Moines here, the city officers would stand in the median of a busy intersection here in town, and basically just wore a reflective vest," Ludwig says. "The vast majority of people would pull up to the red light and just be oblivious to them, and start grabbing their phone and texting."
The Center for Disease Control says that on average, nine people are killed and more than 1,000 people are injured every day by distracted drivers.