Alarming Amount of Iowans Admit to Cell Phone Use While Behind the Wheel

During this year’s Iowa State Fair, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau partnered with the Iowa State Patrol to survey fairgoers about mobile device and seat belt use in vehicles. Iowans from nearly every county were polled and represented in the data. The results show lower seat belt use in the backseat, an alarming number of drivers holding cell phones, and broad support for hands-free legislation.

Results from the survey of 1459 Iowans show cell phone use behind the wheel is prevalent with 51% of drivers admitting to always or sometimes having a mobile device in hand. Despite high usage, 85% surveyed support hands-free legislation.  Bills limiting cell phone use by mandating hands-free technology have been introduced in the Iowa Legislature since 2019, all attempts at passage have been unsuccessful.

Over 55% of Iowa’s passenger vehicle traffic fatalities are unbelted/unknown. While 91% of Iowans polled reported always buckling up when driving, only 66% always wear a seat belt in the backseat. This statistic comes on the heels of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announcing a proposed rule to require front and rear seat belt warning systems for drivers in most new vehicles manufactured in the United States. Iowa has a primary seat belt law for front seat passengers only. Passengers over 18 in rear seats are not required to wear a seat belt.

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau works with city, county, state, and local organizations to develop and implement strategies to reduce deaths and injuries on Iowa’s roadways using federally funded grants.