Exclusive: Tougher Texting-While-Driving Bill Stalls

Omaha, NE.—A move to tighten Nebraska’s texting while driving law appears stalled and unlikely to move forward any time soon.

According to state law, texting while driving is considered a “secondary” offense meaning you can’t be pulled over simply for texting. However, if you’re texting and are stopped for another reason, a texting ticket can be issued.

AAA Nebraska calls Nebraska’s law “weak” noting that a survey by AT&T found that 75 percent of teens say texting while driving is common among their friends.

State Sen. Rick Kolowski of Omaha wants to make texting and driving a “primary” offense—allow police to stop a driver and ticket them solely for texting while driving — but his bill (LB471) is making little or no headway at the State Capitol.

“It may have to wait until next year,” Kolowski tells News Channel Nebraska.

Sen. Rick Kolowski
Courtesy: Unicameral Update

At a time when lawmakers designate certain bills a priority, Kolowski’s legislation remains mired in the Transportation Committee.

The longer it sits there— and several sources tell News Channel Nebraska the bill faces a tough time making it out of committee this year—the less chance it will make it to the floor for debate.

A spokesman for Gov. Pete Ricketts has told News Channel Nebraska that Ricketts, who notes the need to protect “individual liberty,” is just fine with the secondary offense designation for texting and driving.

According to the Nebraska Safety Council, a recent survey—conducted with the State Dept. of Roads and Highway Safety Office—found 89 percent in favor of the stricter rule, which is on the books in 41 other states.

The Legislature’s Fiscal Analyst says both the Nebraska State Patrol and Dept. of Motor Vehicles estimate no additional costs to the state should Kolowski’s bill become law.

Kolowski says his bill is common sense, “Parents love it.”

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