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New bid for ban on handling smart phones while driving

DES MOINES — It would be illegal to use a hand-held smart phone while driving under a bill that’s being proposed again in the Iowa House.

Susan Cameron Daemon is a lobbyist with the Iowa Sheriffs and Deputies Association — a group that’s been supporting a “hands-free” law for years.

“Iowa is one of the few states that does not have this law,” she said yesterday during a subcommittee hearing, “and we know that it works and saves lives.”

Michael Triplett, a lobbyist for the Alliance for Automobile Innovation, said the companies in the alliance developed the technology in dashboards that now makes hands-free driving while talking on a cell signal possible.

“You can access your phone while keeping both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road,” he said.

Matthew McKinney, a lobbyist for Nationwide Insurance, asked legislators to consider also banning the use of other types of electronic devices, like Kindles, that could be held to read while driving.

“Whether it’s a communication device that actually communicates or whether it’s an electronic device and you’re distracted, you shouldn’t be,” he said.

Matt Eide, a lobbyist for the ride-sharing company Uber, asked legislators to make an exception for Uber drivers.

“They have to press some buttons to accept rides,” Eide said, “and they are going to use their phones, generally.”

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau first proposed a ban on handling a cell phone while driving in 2015, and former Governor Terry Branstad lobbied lawmakers, but the bill has repeatedly failed to pass the legislature.

Iowa is among the 48 states in which it’s illegal to text while driving.

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