DES MOINES — The Iowa Senate has voted to make it illegal for all drivers to use a hand-held smart phone while a vehicle is in motion.

Drivers under the age of 18 years have long been prohibited from using electronic devices, unless the vehicle is off the roadway and stopped, but efforts to extend that policy to adult drivers have stalled in the legislature for more than a decade.

Senator Mark Lofgren of Muscatine said the distraction of a smart phone in a vehicle has become a major issue. “Twenty-five years ago, the problem was not as prevalent, but today it is common place and continues to get worse,” he said. “Hindering drivers from messing with their phones by requiring a voice activated or hands free mode will not eliminate all the risks of distraction, but it will define the line not to cross over and, by doing so, will improve safety on our roads.”

Lofgren thanked people who’ve been hit by distracted drivers or had loved ones die in an accident for lobbying for the legislation. If the bill becomes law, motorists ticketed for handling a smart phone while driving would be fined 100-dollars. There would be higher fines and the potential for a license suspension if the distraction of a smart phone leads to an accident that causes serious injuries.

The bill passed the Senate on a 47-to-three vote and now goes to the House for consideration. Twenty-four other states prohibit all drivers from using a hand-held smart phone while a vehicle is moving.

It’s currently illegal to text while driving in Iowa, but police says it’s almost impossible to enforce.