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House File 75 would prohibit the use of an electronic communication device while driving unless it is in a voice-activated or hands-free mode. There are also exceptions for members of a public safety agency performing official duties, health care professionals in the course of emergency situations, the purpose of receiving safety-related information, reporting an emergency situation, certain radio operators and members of a public transit system performing official duties while in a vehicle that is not moving.

Mike Triplett with the Alliance For Automotive Innovation spoke in support of the bill. He noted that technology companies invested hundreds of millions of dollars into driver safety and passenger safety in the past decade to the point where people can access their phone while driving with both hands on the wheel. The group supports the bill because it allows people to continue using that technology.

Matt McKinney with Nationwide said the organization is undecided. He said that someone would be allowed to use an electronic device like a Kindle since it isn’t a communication device, but they couldn’t use an iPad.

Matt Eide represented Uber and said the company would like to also have some exceptions in the bill. He noted the group isn’t looking for anything special but said drivers will touch buttons to accept a ride from time to time while they are not moving.

Susan Cameron Daemen of the Iowa State Sheriffs’ & Deputies’ Association expressed support for the bill, noting that Iowa is one of the few states without the law.

“We know that it works and it saves lives,” she said.

She said that texting as a primary offense was a “step in the right direction,” even though it is not always enforceable.

“We also hear a lot of why not all distractions,” she said. “Well, not everyone has a child in the backseat, not everyone is eating, not everyone is drinking while driving. But we know that 95 percent of people have their phones in their car, in their vehicle when they’re driving.”

Cameron Daemen said technology is available at Walmart to comply with the proposed law.

Democrat State Rep. John Forbes said he supports the bill and called it a good public safety bill. Republican State Rep. Jon Thorup said it is a good bill.

Republican Rep. Ann Meyer, who chaired the subcommittee, said everyone has been driving down the highway and witnessed someone distracted on their phone. She too supports the bill.

Author: Jacob Hall