State Patrol: Ultra-distracted drivers matching big problem

Published: Jun. 15, 2018 at 5:38 AM CDT
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Iowa State Patrol troopers say they are seeing more and more ultra-distracted drivers on the road.

"Ultra-distracted" means motorists are watching videos, TV shows and other forms of entertainment while driving.

Of course, having a smartphone means hours of content at your fingertips.

The problem is, those who just can't get enough take it with them behind the wheel.

"I know what Twitter looks like, I know what Snapchat looks like, I know what Facebook looks like," Trooper James Lancaster said.

Lancaster said he's seen people watching anything and everything behind the wheel.

"I haven't been able to pick out exactly what videos they're watching yet, but I know enough 'Seinfeld,'" he said. "I'm going to know what episode they're watching if someone's watching 'Seinfeld' down the road."

And you won't believe what Lancaster said he caught a trucker watching on Interstate 80 recently.

"We're in a construction zone, he's run over at least 10 cones. I pull him over, and when I walk up and climb into the cab of the truck, he's got 'America's Got Talent' or 'American Idol' on his phone over his gauges so he can't see any of his gauges and he's watching that," Lancaster said.

He said ultra-distracted driving is becoming a problem on Iowa highways thanks to smartphones and people who think they can get away with it.

Lancaster advises drivers not to think they can fool him -- or any other trooper, for that matter -- by trying to tuck their phone under the dashboard. He said he can see the phone's reflections on drivers' faces, especially at night, and he knows they're watching something.

"Most of the time, they're oblivious to me next to them watching them do it," Lancaster said.

Lancaster has this message for drivers: "Just have the discipline to put the phones down; your loved ones will thank you."

It goes without saying that this practice is dangerous, but it can also cost you in the pocketbook.

When all is said and done, if you get caught, it'll be about $100.

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