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Linn-Mar Students Advocate For Tougher Texting and Driving Laws

Iowa State Senator Mathis - Linn Mar Board of Education - Superintendent - High School Students at Iowa State CapitolHigh School students were joined by members of the Board of Education and Linn-Mar’s superintendent at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines Wednesday, February 15 to discuss the issue of texting and driving.

The students urged Iowa lawmakers to approve a bill that would make using a mobile device while driving a primary offense. Currently, similar legislation has been passed in 15 states. If passed, the Iowa bill would impose a fine and moving violation on drivers.

The press conference was held by the coalition “Stay Alive: Don’t Phone & Drive” which is made up of several groups including the Governor Terry Branstad’s Traffic and Safety Bureau and a multinational telecommunications company.

In November, the school district experienced the devastating impact of texting and driving with the loss of two students in a two-vehicle accident.

According to School Assistance Counselor Lisa Mooney, “the core group of friends had been struggling with grief since that day.” Over time, the group began to meet regularly to talk and help each other through this difficult time.

During one of those meetings, “one of the students mentioned that they wished the law would change in Iowa regarding texting and driving,” Mooney said, “that was the spark that lit the fire to turn grief into advocacy.”

Mooney said Senator Liz Mathis (Iowa Senate District 34) was asked if she would be interested in coming to talk to the group. “Senator Mathis came in early January and was extremely gracious and supportive,” Mooney added. “During the talk, she shared many ideas for the group.” One of those ideas was going to the capitol to lobby. Last week, the group was invited to the state capitol for the advocacy event that was held Wednesday, February 15.

“We plan to have a don’t text and drive event in the spring and plan to partner with the Marion Police Department.”

According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, from 2010-2015, there were 32 fatalities and nearly 4,000 accidents caused by drivers distracted by use of a phone or other device.