Senator Ties Traffic Camera Ban With Hands-Free Smart Phone Use While Driving

Des Moines, Iowa — A state senator who’s tried for years to ban traffic cameras is pairing a proposed ban with a plan to crack down on motorists who use their smartphones while driving.

Republican Senator Brad Zaun of Urbandale began the effort in 2011 after a camera ticketed his vehicle speeding in Cedar Rapids, but it was his son behind the wheel at the time.

Zaun held a subcommittee hearing Tuesday morning. Relatives of three Iowans who’ve been killed by a driver distracted by a smartphone pleaded with Zaun to just advance the requirement that drivers’ smartphones be in hands-free mode on the road. Peter Bengston told senators his daughter Ellen was riding her bicycle near Charles City in 2020 when she was struck and killed by a driver who was opening an app on his cell phone.

Veronica Young of held a photo of her 22-year-old son Derrius who was killed near Sumner on February 5th of last year by a driver who ran a stop sign.

Kristi Castenson of Harcourt held up a photo of her husband and their family. Dave Cartenson and his 85-year-old mother were killed in 2015 by a driver using a smartphone. The driver, who was convicted, was sentenced to probation in the first case of distracted driving prosecuted in Iowa.

State troopers and police officers from Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines, Dubuque and Fayette urged Senator Zaun to drop his proposal to ban traffic cameras in Iowa after July 1st of 2025. Fayette Police Chief Ben Davis says he doesn’t have the staff that many metro areas have and traffic cameras are important in his town.

Last year the Iowa Senate did pass a bill to require that drivers only use a smartphone in hands-free mode, but it stalled in the House.



Local News