REDUCING DISTRACTIONS FOR SAFER ROADS
Distracted driving is an increasing safety concern on our roads. Drivers divert their attention from the road for any number of activities—adjusting the radio, eating, grooming and interacting with passengers. The most notorious distraction these days is texting while driving.
Iowans admit to doing it, even though they are frightened by it. Nearly 9 in 10 road users say that texting drivers are a very serious threat to their personal safety, according to AAA. That sentiment is understandable. Distracted drivers endanger themselves, their passengers and everyone else on the road.
Pat Hoye, who heads up the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, told legislators that texting is an extremely dangerous form of distraction for drivers because it entails three types of distraction: diverting the driver’s vision, removing hands from the steering wheel and taking the mind off the road. Talking on the phone increases the risk of being involved in a traffic crash by three to four times. Texting while driving increases that chance by 23 times.
While road fatalities have declined, distracted driving crashes are on the rise. Between 2003 and 2012, distracted driving was a factor in 7,357 Iowa crashes that resulted in 3,450 injuries and 26 deaths. Law enforcement professionals believe these numbers understate the problem. Here’s why.
In Iowa, 65 percent of road fatalities are caused by lane departures. From 2002 through 2011, 2,723 lives were lost and 9,234 severe injuries were sustained in lane departure crashes in Iowa. What is the primary reason for a lane departure? Driver distraction.
Distracted driving has become the top priority for Iowa’s public safety professionals. The Joint Public Safety Board, made up of firefighters, police and sheriffs, say they want the Legislature to crack down on distracted driving this session.
What do you think?
This is a legislative update from Senator Rich Taylor, representing Henry and Lee counties and portions of Washington and Jefferson counties. For newsletters, photos and further information, go to www.senate.iowa.gov/senator/taylor.
To contact Senator Taylor during session, call the Senate Switchboard at 515-281-3371. Otherwise he can be reached at home at 319-931-1568. E-mail him at email@example.com.
Senator Taylor is vice-chair of the Agriculture Committee. He also serves on the Economic Growth, Judiciary, Local Government and Transportation committees, as well as the Justice Systems Budget Subcommittee.