Northwest Iowa — Last week Iowa State Patrol Trooper Vince Kurtz told KIWA that more than 400 people lost their lives on Iowa roadways in 2016. Kurtz blamed what he called “Driver Error” for many of those crashes, a term which, according to Kurtz, encompasses such things as excessive speed, failure to wear a seat belt, distracted driving such as texting while driving, failure to maintain control, and driving while impaired.
In Tuesday’s Condition of the State Address, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad addressed the problem by urging lawmakers to pass a package of tougher traffic laws, including cracking down on texting while driving.
Branstad says his worry is “distracted” driving and he has proposed boosting penalties for drivers who hit motorcyclists, bicyclists or pedestrians. Senator Tim Kapucian, a Republican from Keystone, says the ultimate goal should be “hands-free” cell phone use within a vehicle.
Kapucian is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. He expects the panel to review these and other proposals related to distracted driving but he’s not predicting what may pass. At least 402 people died in crashes on Iowa roadways in 2016 and Trooper Kurtz tells us that excessive speed was a factor in many crashes. Neither the governor nor Kapucian are proposing changes in posted speed limits or suggested increased fines for speeding at this point, but Senator Kapucian is concerned that too many motorists are weaving through traffic and driving too close to other vehicles.
Governor Branstad discussed traffic safety near the end of his “Condition of the State” message yesterday. The governor read part of a letter from the parents of a bicyclist who was killed by a motorist who was texting while driving.