Hearing for texting and driving bill next week

Posted at 10:29 PM, Feb 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-27 19:49:26-05

A serious issue is about to go before the Nebraska Legislature, texting and driving.

The current state law allows police to ticket a driver for distracted driving if they are stopped for another violation.

Senator Rick Kolowski is trying to change that and make using your cell phone while driving is a primary offense.

SEE RELATED: Nebraska's push to stop texting and driving

LB 471 will go before the Transportation and Telecommunication Committee on Monday, where the senators will decide if the bill will move forward.

“I hope it will be looked at as a good thing, a right thing, a correct thing to do and not have a big brother kind of attitude, it is a safety issue,” said Kolowski.

The committee will hear testimony from proponents and opponents, and similar bills have failed in the committee in the past.

“If it is the same bill as the last couple of years than I doubt my opinion will have changed,” said Senator Jim Smith, committee member.

“The problem is basically, how do you enforce something like that,” added Senator Curt Friesen, Chair of the committee.

The eight senators in the committee will have to vote to forward the bill, five votes are needed.

“Many of the members of the committee felt there was this concern that it would be used to pull a person over without clear evidence that texting was taking place,” said Smith.

“You can use it as profiling, you can use it for stops in order for drug searches and I don't think we are ready to go there,” said Friesen.

41 other states have a primary offense for all drivers who use a phone while driving, “If someone would bring me example of how they are enforcing it, and the tools they are using i am open to looking at it,” added Friesen.

The committee has five new members this year that all come with new opinions. Senator Suzanne Geist wanted to wait for hearing to comment on the bill and the other senators in the committee did not respond to requests for comment.

KMTV will follow LB 471 through the legislative process and bring you updates.