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Friday, December 1, 2023

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On World AIDS Day, New Mexico activists say more money is needed for prevention; ND farmers still navigate corporate land-ownership policy maze; Unpaid caregivers in ME receive limited financial grants.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken urges Israel to protect civilians amid Gaza truce talks, New York Rep. George Santos defends himself as his expected expulsion looms and CDC director warns about respiratory illness as flu season begins.

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Congress has iced the Farm Bill, but farmer advocates argue some portions are urgent, the Hoosier State is reaping big rewards from wind and solar, and opponents react to a road through Alaska's Brooks Range, long a dream destination for hunters and anglers.

Iowa Lawmakers Push for Drivers' Hands-Free Cellphone Use

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Thursday, January 26, 2023   

Iowa lawmakers are considering a bill which would dramatically reduce the use of cellphones in vehicles.

Right now, it is illegal in Iowa to send or read text messages while driving, but drivers can use a cellphone for navigation, which often takes more attention than texting. Senate Bill 60 would tighten the rules further, prohibiting drivers from operating a phone if it takes more than a single touch to activate or deactivate it.

Sen. Claire Celsi, D-West Des Moines, said she is personally motivated by the measure after attending the wake of a constituent's 12-year-old child who was killed by a distracted driver.

"It really affected me," Celsi recounted. "The dad just said, 'Please, please, please make this illegal. Please help people like us never to have to go through a loss like this.' So, that's what really spurred me to join onto the bill this year. It's a Republican bill, but I completely support it."

The Iowa Department of Public Safety said drivers who use handheld devices are four times more likely to be in a collision causing injuries than those who are not using their phones. The bill is headed to a Senate committee.

Celsi acknowledged she used to oppose hands-free cell phone measures, because she felt the costs were prohibitive, but she said technology has caught up, and prices have come down.

"You can buy something at Walmart for $20 that can help you go hands free in your car," Celsi pointed out. "I think it really demands now that we reexamine the issue and do something about distracted driving in our state."

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said about half of states prohibit the handheld use of cellphones when driving, and all but Montana prohibit text-messaging while driving.


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