Iowa DOT sees a decline in traffic related deaths for 2017

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- A new report out by the Iowa DOT shows the number of people killed in traffic crashes has gone down compared to last year.

There's still a month to go, but so far, about 300 people have died in crashes this year.

Last year at this time, that number was just over 350.

The Iowa DOT says the new texting ban that went into effect over the summer may have something to do with it.

They believe drivers, especially those headed down 380 are less likely to reach for their phone.

Back in July a new law to toughen Iowa's ban on texting while driving went into effect.

Officers on the road have been issuing tickets and making it clear that drivers can't pull up Facebook, Twitter, or send someone a text message while on the road.

Cathy Cutler with the Iowa DOT also says a number of media campaigns help shed light on the dangers of texting.

"The numbers this year are much much better than last year and I think it's important that we look at averages so we've been averaging around 320 fatal crashes a year, of course, our goal is towards 0 fatalities so we would really like that number to go down every year," says Cutler.

It's a 30 dollar fine if an officer pulls you over, but with court fees, a person could pay over $100.

If texting causes a fatal crash, the individual caught texting could face 10 years in prison and a fine of more than a $10,000.

The Iowa DOT says in order to keep the numbers going down it's important to always wear seatbelts cut down on distracted driving by putting those phones down.

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