MASON CITY, Iowa - Distracted driving is responsible for 9 deaths and 1,000 injuries every single day in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Now, a law that went into effect a little more than a year ago in Iowa is helping authorities crack down on drivers who are texting behind the wheel. The State Patrol has issued 1,131 citations over the last year, up from 182 the year before.
Before the law took effect, texting while driving was only a secondary offense in Iowa, meaning an officer could only issue a citation for texting if the driver was pulled over for a different offense. Now, it's a primary offense.
Minnesota has also seen a rise of texting/driving tickets; during a statewide enforcement in April, more than 1,500 citations were given out.
Eman Khan of Mason City says texting behind the wheel is something she sees all too often.
"I've been behind people that are texting, and I can see them texting. I see the phone in their hand, I see them doing that thumb thing, and I see them weave, and it's just awful."
She implores drivers that reading and responding to that text can and needs to wait.
"One wrong text, one car coming the wrong way, you swerve just a little bit out of the way...you could kill yourself and everybody else. That text is not as important as making sure you're alive the next day."
Research from the National Advanced Driving Simulator found that it takes two seconds to impair a driver’s safety. It usually takes 5 seconds to send or read a text. At 55 miles per hour, that is the same as driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.