A traffic project focused on distracted driving and pedestrian safety.
Distracted driving is a serious and growing threat to road safety. Have you ever noticed that when you’re on the phone and watching a film, you simply can’t give both your full attention? That’s because the brain cannot focus on more than one cognitively demanding task at a time. A driver is distracted when they pay attention to something else while driving. People simply cannot multi-task, especially while driving, which is considered a ‘cognitively demanding’ task. Doing something else while you are driving, puts extra demand on the driver, which may reduce his or her driving capabilities. Distracted driving includes texting, talking, using your phone, adjusting the radio, applying makeup, eating or drinking.
For the past decade, distracted driving has taken U.S. roadways by storm, endangering not only the distracted drivers, but their passengers, pedestrians and others on the road – including bicyclists. In October 2021, the Marshalltown Police Department received grant funding from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau to participate in a project aimed at enhancing pedestrian safety. The funding is for both pedestrian safety education and enforcement.
On Monday, 12/13/21, the Marshalltown Police Department and the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office conducted a traffic project focused on distracted driving and pedestrian safety. Within the last two weeks, Chief Tupper received complaints regarding distracted teen drivers on cell phones and speed within our school zones where our most innocent pedestrians walk – our children. The officers focused on behaviors that lead to crashes such as failure to yield, red light/stop sign violations, move over violations, speeding, pedestrian laws, drug/alcohol impairment, and electronic device use. The officers and deputies focused on school zones where multiple complaints were made. In just two hours, officers and deputies had 32 contacts. Although enforcement was used to generate the traffic stop, the education component was involved in each contact to educate the driver on the violation and our mission for making our school zones a safer place for pedestrians.
The electronic device law in Iowa states that a person shall not use a hand-held electronic communication device to write, send, or view an electronic message while driving a motor vehicle unless the motor vehicle is at a complete stop and off the traveled portion of the roadway (with some exceptions). Iowa’s Texting Law does not apply to hands-free devices, such as Bluetooth speakers, GPS navigation devices, and cell phones if the driver is using the device to talk and not to text. However, drivers who are using an instruction permit or intermediate driver’s license (typically drivers under the age of 18) are generally prohibited from all electronic device use while driving, including calls. The only exception is for devices that are permanently installed in the vehicle or operated through permanently installed equipment.
The Marshalltown Police Department’s goal is to bring awareness and help spread the importance of pedestrian safety. Our efforts are just beginning and we have a lot to accomplish in the year ahead so be prepared to see more enforcement efforts in the weeks and months to come. As always, your local law enforcement is urging drivers to slow down and give the roadways your full undivided attention.
AUTHORITY: Sgt. Casee Veren (firstname.lastname@example.org or 641.754.5725)