Nebraska Distracted Driving Laws
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers (Secondary Law).
- Ban on texting for all drivers (Secondary Law).
Nebraska’s Texting While Driving Stand
At the beginning of 2012, there was the filing of the distracted driving legislation in the state of Nebraska. The law seeks to outlaw the use of communication devices that are handheld in areas with school crossings as well as working zones.
The state of Nebraska banned drivers from engaging in text messaging as a form of secondary enforcement. The first enforcing of the law was on July 1, 2010. Scottsbluff senator John Harms drafted the law barring texting on the road. Expectations were that he would return with legislation meant to make the ban on texting a primary infraction. This made sure that the law became effective. There was no tabling of legislation at the opening of the 2012 session.
The 2011 session considered the law prohibiting texting and mobile device use. Current prohibitions in Nebraska outlaw text messaging for any driver on the state’s roads as well as highways. The fines violator would have to pay in the range from $200 to $500 plus the driver would receive three points on their license.
The law forbids learner-licensed drivers less than 18 years of age, as well as any intermediate licensees from using cell phones while driving. Expectations are that a driver will read the texting statute before infractions that could damage their driving records to catch up with them.
There is also the distracted driving legislation on Bill 875. This completely bans the use of any handheld devices for communication through texting. This is especially enforced near crossing zones for school children as well as work and construction areas. Primary enforcement is applied to violating drivers who possess learner permits as well as teenagers possessing intermediate licenses. The fines applicable here are the same as those for texting, where the driver will have to pay $200 on the first offense, $300 on the second, as well as three points and a $500 fine thereafter.
In 2011, the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety has reported that cell phone-related crashes numbered more than 1,100. This was in the period beginning from 2002 to the end of 2010. Within that timeframe, there were 484 injuries and 6 deaths. It is on record that more than 30 percent of the accidents had teenage drivers involved. In excess of 80 crash cases that occurred were said to be tied to the use of cell phones in the first six months of 2011.
In 2010, Bill 945 was introduced to outlaw the use of text messages by all drivers. This was termed as a Secondary violation originally. The fines, in this case, were to be $200 for the first violation, $300 on the second and three points on the driving license as well as $500 for the following violations. With the approval from the Transport and Telecommunications Committee on March 2, 2010, the law came into place. The full legislation came on April 8, 2010, after a landslide vote. Governor Dave Heineman signed the bill into law five days later.
In the same year, Nebraska state senator John Harms authored Bill 945. This was a form of follow up on the previous successful crusade meant to prohibit teenagers from any use of mobile devices or texts while driving. As well, with the Heineman veto on the prior distracted driving degree for teenagers, it was overruled. It needed a two-vote margin to win and that took place as the votes turned out to be 27 yes and 19 no.
The state legislation now disallows anyone to use any handheld device meant for texting communications to read, write or manually typewritten communication when operating a moving car. This, however, does not apply to law enforcement officers on duty, firefighters as well as ambulance drivers and any other emergency technicians. This also exempted for persons who are operating a car during emergencies.
Any violation of the section of the law shall prove the driver guilty of infractions related to the traffic and liable for punishment. The penalty for this includes cash fines as well as points gained on their driving licenses. The law also stipulates that the handheld devices are those but not limited to provide for written communication devices between parties with the capability of receiving, transmitting as well as displaying written content.
The law also stipulates that the handheld wireless devices are but not limited to mobile phones, text messaging devices, Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) devices, pagers or laptops and pads. This excludes such devices that are permanently attached to the car. These are such as GPS trackers and mapping devices or a hands-free communication device in the driver’s ear such as Bluetooth earpiece. In terms of the written communication, this is not limited to text messages, IMs, emails as well as web pages.
Nebraska law bans anyone below 18 years old from using any wireless communication device when operating a car. This is inclusive of such devices as cell phones, PDA’s, devices for messaging, video and audio players that have the ability to transmit messages as well as tabs and laptops.