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Iowa lawmakers are once again trying to pass a “hands free” law that would ban drivers from holding a cell phone while behind the wheel. This year, they’re also trying to ban traffic cameras in the same bill.

At a Senate subcommittee meeting Tuesday, families of crash victims advocated for lawmakers to finally pass a hands free bill, which have failed multiple times in recent years.

Kristi Castenson, whose husband and mother in law were killed by a driver who was texting in 2015, asked lawmakers to act. “I am pleading that - I don’t want anyone in here to to have to suffer from a crash or lose a loved one or be injured,” Castenson said.

Senate Study Bill 3016 does require drivers to put the phone down while driving, but it also bans speed and red light cameras as well.

Luke Hoffman with the Iowa Bicycle Coalition says the two issues shouldn’t be combined. “I highly doubt we’ll hear a story about anyone who’s lost a loved one because they got a traffic ticket and so I think it’s more important that we focus on the hands free component,” Hoffman said.

Republican State Senator Brad Zaun of Urbandale says he’s combining the two issues because he finally wants to pass something.

Zaun says he thinks traffic cameras are unconstitutional and are used to generate revenue and aren’t about safety. “The proliferation of these cameras in small communities is really gotten out of control. You shouldn’t be putting these cameras in and I hear time and time again about revenue. Revenue, revenue, revenue,” Zaun said.

Zaun says traffic camera tickets disproportionately impact Iowans with lower incomes.


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