The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


January 7, 2014

Legislature needs to toughen up distracted driving laws

Iowa safety officials want drivers to focus on the road, so they’re focusing on putting some teeth into laws regarding distracted driving. We think they’re on the right road.

All sorts of things qualify as distracted driving, of course: Putting on makeup, reaching for food or drink, tuning the radio, talking on the cellphone.

But the chief problem state officials have identified is texting, and Iowa Department of Public Safety officials say they plan to push for ways to strengthen enforcement of current state laws.

They will ask legislators in the coming session to add a distracted-driving subsection to existing law dealing with failure to maintain control of a vehicle, a moving violation with the fine and costs amounting to about $200.

You may wonder why this is necessary since Iowa already bans texting for all drivers and bars teenagers operating under restricted or intermediate licenses, as well as instructional or school permits, from using cellphones or electronic devices while driving. That violation is a simple misdemeanor carrying a $30 fine, although it can go higher if property damage, injury or death are involved.

But current law only is enforceable as a secondary action when an officer stops or detains a driver for a suspected violation of another motor vehicle law.

Sgt. Scott Bright, spokesman for the Iowa Department of Public Safety, said the legislative proposal to expand the statute regarding failure to control would make distracted driving a primary offense — meaning an officer could fine the driver for that offense without any other violation occurring.

Officers also would have more discretion when such activity appears to be causing unsafe driving such as swerving.

That’s not always the case now. Currently, officials say, in the event of a crash it’s hard for the investigating officer to “define and prove” the driver was distracted. Making distracted driving a primary violation would make such situations easier for law enforcement to address.

Text Only
  • Youngquist photo World Book Night celebrated April 23 The Clinton Public Library children's department plans to start a Legos club this June. We would appreciate donations of new or used Legos bricks. Please, no Duplo bricks. Drop donations at the children's desk on the second floor of the library. Root

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Walter Williams mug Equality in discipline George Leef, director of research for the North Carolina-based John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, authored a Forbes op-ed article titled "Obama Administration Takes Groupthink To Absurd Lengths." The subtitle is "School Discipline

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Reader is grateful for Iowa-American Water's help I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere gratitude to Iowa-American Water Company and its hard-working professional crew. I was without water, due to frozen pipes, for almost seven weeks. Everyone went above and beyond to get my wat

    April 17, 2014

  • 'Case Day' inspires students to aim high There's an MRCTV video circulating on the Internet that features a man with a microphone asking college students in Washington, D.C., to name just one member of the United States Senate. At least half a dozen are stumped. When he asks how many senato

    April 16, 2014

  • 4-15-14 13-Photo, Masters Bubba more than local hero? AUGUSTA, Ga. -- He plays a sexy game of golf, owns two green jackets and -- in what constitutes a show of major respect in these parts --Bubba Watson made rabid Georgia Bulldog fans take a break from spring football to watch some golf this weekend. A

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • Leonard Pitts mug ...and this is Overkill News Network Enough, already. Please, for the love of Cronkite: Give us a break from the missing plane. Yes, we all wonder what happened to it. Yes, our hearts go out to the families seeking resolution. But really, CNN ... enough. Put your hands up and step away

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • If I can do it... If I can do this, you can also do this. What I would like to tell you about is being a volunteer driver for the Veterans Administration. I am retired from the electrical trade. I worked as an electrician for 36 years. When I took my retirement some t

    April 15, 2014

  • Allie Kibler mugshot YWCA camp offers fun for kids Each month YWCA members and volunteers are featured highlighting the many facets of our community in which they're a part of. This month, YWCA Youth Director, Allie Kibler shares information on this summer's YWCA Fun in the Sun Summer Camp program. T

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Could LBJ do as much today? Fifty years later, it's hard to imagine the enactment of the Civil Rights Act by today's polarized Congress. Maybe, as the old saying goes, today's fighting is so vicious because the stakes are so small. We Americans fight less among ourselves when w

    April 14, 2014

  • Retiring CCC instructors praise college's growth, direction After more than 35 years of service to Clinton Community College, we would like to offer some pre-retirement observations about the college: its past, its present and its future. When we arrived at the college in 1976, it had already been transforme

    April 14, 2014


With the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussing proposals to construct a new jail, do you think the time has come for Clinton County to construct such a facility?

     View Results