A House transportation committee voted 2-1 on Tuesday to advance legislation aimed at reducing distracted driving by banning the use of hand-held devices while operating a motor vehicle.
House File 2119 would extend Iowa’s texting ban to prohibit drivers from using a smartphones or other electronic devices they would hold while driving. Violating the provision would be a moving offense carrying a $100 fine.
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Backers wanted to make sure the legislation would allow drivers to use electronic communication devices in hands-free mode that were physically or electronically integrated into their vehicles or could be operated with minimal contact. Exemptions were suggested for ham radio operators.
A representative for the state Department of Public Safety suggested legislators consider including a “grace period” of six months. Drivers would be issued a warning rather than fined for a violation during the transition to the new law.
The state Department of Transportation also proposed the bill be amended to cover novice and intermediate drivers who inadvertently were omitted when the bill was drafted.
The bill now moves to the House Transportation Committee for consideration.