Distracted Driving Awareness Week begins in IL, while IA preps for new law

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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC)- Both Illinois and Iowa now list texting and driving as a primary offense, which allows officers to pull over drivers caught in the act.

Illinois officers will be focusing on distracted driving during "Distracted Driving Awareness Week" April 24th-28th.

Iowa State Patrol will be focusing on distracted driving throughout 2017, especially with a new law signed by Governor Terry Branstad that allows officers to pull over drivers on their phones.

On a sunny Monday afternoon, Sergeant Scott Drechsler worked a section of I-80 north of Davenport.

He says he and other officers can easily spot drivers on their phones.

"Highway speeds when you're still stationary, you can see people with their heads down," he said. "It's pretty easy to observe."

The new distracted driving law in Iowa goes into effect July 1st. It would allow Sgt. Drechsler and other officers to pull drivers over on their phones and give them a $30 ticket.

"Any advancement of the law that's going to allow us the opportunity to prevent texting and driving is good," he said. "There are way too many accidents caused by texting and driving. I don't think we could ever put a number on it."

The most recent number from Iowa DOT comes from 2015. In that year, 1,100 crashes and 601 injuries were caused by distracted driving.

But there is a bit of gray area for Iowa Troopers, drivers can still use their phones to talk or for GPS in the state.

Sgt. Drechsler says the new distracted driving law is a good step toward a safer roadway.

"It's all about safety on the highways for folks that are traveling," he said.

In Illinois, drivers can be ticketed $120 for distracted driving.