DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa is one step closer to becoming hands-free.

The State House Transportation Committee passed a bill banning drivers from using their cell phones on the road Wednesday.

Current law only bans texting while driving in Iowa. If this bill becomes law, drivers would have to keep their phones down entirely while driving. They could still make calls using blue tooth.
After passing the State Senate on March 22, the bill passed out of the House committee by an 18-2 vote.

Wednesday’s vote is another step in what’s been a years-long journey for lawmakers and activists. They’ve been trying to tighten distracted driving laws because they say the current ban on texting while driving is ineffective and hard to enforce.

“That was a big part of it. Public safety came to us and said we can’t prove that he was texting or that she was texting, that they can say that they were trying to get to their GPS, that they can say that I was dialing, and then they don’t have to give you the phone. And so they can’t even find out for sure what you were doing, then you have to take the motorist’s word for it. And so it was defined so badly that it was really difficult for public safety,” said state Rep. Brian Best, (R), District 11 from Glidden.

He said the bill now heads to the House Appropriations Committee and then potentially the floor.

If it becomes law, violators would be subject to a potential $100 ticket. They’d only receive warnings until Jan. 1, 2024.