Iowa should pass ‘hands-free’ bill

Mia Dexter graphic

You’ve seen the ads, you hear it from your parents and other adults before you get into the vehicle, but how many times do you listen and how often do you think the people telling what not to do, do it themselves?

Texting while driving is an action that many people take part of, though people tell each other not to do it all the time. It doesn’t matter how short the text is that they type, or how quickly they glance down at their screens to read their newly received messages, it’s still a distraction, and phone calls are just as bad; the control you have over the wheel is lessened when you’re using one hand to steer and one hand to hold a cellular device in the other. How important is that phone call or text compared to your life or someone else’s?

This year, lawmakers in Iowa have proposed a Hands-Free law, which prohibits the usage of handheld devices while at the wheel. It has come to an agreement that motorists should not be allowed to use phones, but there is disagreement considering the best way to prohibit phone usage for drivers.

It would be much easier if texting while driving was a primary offense, but it’s an offense that would be very difficult to enforce. Iowa is one out of the five states that does not stop drivers for texting while driving because it is considered a second offense.

Distractions while driving are the leading cause of car crashes, as 80 percent of automobile crashes involve some sort of distraction, one of them being cell phones.

Teens are also more susceptible to using their cell phones behind the wheel, which increases the risk of them getting into a crash. When the Pokemon Go! App was all the rage, many teens were at risk when it came to driving around while on their phones to catch them all.

But teens weren’t the only ones playing the game. It also expanded out to adults as well. If that is what’s really important to people than their focus on the road ahead of them, then isn’t that a problem that needs to be fixed? All it takes is a few seconds to be distracted by your phone and something bad can happen.

It is already banned for teens with restricted licenses to use their phones while driving. The Hands-Free law would prohibit people of all ages from using cellular devices.

Some students who are driving believe that the Hands-Free law would be a good thing for everyone. Jillian Gaines, a Peet student, believes that roads would be much safer with the restriction of cell phones. “I like the idea of this because it’s not only going to keep pedestrians safe but drivers as well,” Gaines said.

The benefits vary though; on one hand, you have the upgrade in safety on the roads and in the car. But on the other hand, laws like this can be hard to enforce. “People are always going to find a way to get around it and do it illegally, no matter what,” Natalie Huffman, a student of Peet, said.

“This could be very hard for some people who think they need to pick up their phone,” Gaines said. “People might be so used to using their phones while driving that it could be a hard habit to break if the Hand-Free law is passed. I think at first, a lot of people are gonna break this law because they’re so used to just picking up their phone when they get a notification.”

But for the people who aren’t in the habit of using their phones while driving, this could prevent them from starting. “The thought of it being illegal and you could punished for it might kind of help back off the urge (to use phones while driving,)” Huffman said.

It definitely is in agreement that something needs to be done to maintain the safety of drivers and pedestrians in regard to cell phone usage while behind the wheel, but legislators struggle to come to a consensus as to how.

They should pass the Hands-Free law soon.

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