Texting, Drinking, and Prison

I definitely wouldn’t consider myself a journalist or reporter in any sense, and there are numerous places where you can get faster, harder hitting, and more grammatically correct news than this blog. However, I’d be remiss not to mention the recent laws signed into legislation by the Iowa governor (Terry Branstad). Here’s a quick, totally biased update on those:

I’ll start off with the changes to the punishment for texting while driving. Until recently, texting while driving was a secondary offense in Iowa – meaning that the driver could be cited for using their phones, but it would have to be during a traffic stop for a primary offense. It’s now a primary offense, so police can pull the driver over if they’re suspected of using their phone behind the wheel. You may recall that one of my tips for driving around cyclists included putting your phone down. This is maybe just another push to follow that advice.

Even further, the law establishes a much stricter penalty for death caused by drivers using their phones to “write, send, or view an electronic message” while driving – to the tune of a Class C felony and up to 10 years in prison. One of the largest forces behind this change was the death of Grace Harken in July of 2015. The person behind the wheel admitted to texting while she was driving, causing the accident. The repercussions? A bit over $1000 in fines and a 3 month license suspension. The wild part is that this wasn’t even a unique case. Numerous cyclists have been killed by negligent drivers with little to no repercussions for the drivers, which is, frankly, fucking absurd. I am beyond stoked to see the Iowa public and legislators supporting and defending Iowa cyclists (and really every Iowa resident) by signing this bill.

The other part of the recently signed bill is around a 24/7 sobriety initiative. Basically, this means that if you’ve been arrested for being impaired while driving, you have to check in twice daily for a breathalyzer test. This program spawned largely out of a crash that killed Wade Franck in August of 2015 during Urban Assault Ride. The driver was drunk at the time of the crash and was a secondary offender that was driving while barred. It’s a bit sad that people require this sort of monitoring to just not be a total asshole, but it’s comforting to see Iowa prioritizing public safety.

Currently another important bill for cyclists, the Change Lanes to Pass Bicyclists bill, has been moved to “unfinished business”. The bill stalled last year, and it appears to be losing momentum this year as well. I sincerely hope that I’ll be talking about that story one day soon, but I’m about out of thread.

P.S. – I wrote this while listening to Run the Jewels 2. Great album.

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