Distracted Driving Laws in Nebraska
Distracted driving in Nebraska is a significant source of issues among motorists. In 2015, there were 160 traffic accidents involving cell phone use while driving. Moreover, 43 of those accidents involved teenagers. Over the past ten years, roads and highways in NE saw an average of 3,600 accidents related to driving distractions each year.
On a national basis, distracted driving facts show that there are as many as 3,400 fatalities every year due to these types of behaviors. Presently, the most dangerous behavior that causes accidents in the United States is texting and driving. Every day, more than eight people die in the U.S. due to these accidents, and 1,161 more sustain injuries in crashes where driving distracted was listed as a factor. To learn more about the dangers of these behaviors and the related laws currently in place in Nebraska, read the sections below.
What is distracted driving in Nebraska?
Driving distractions are activities that cause motorists to not pay attention to operating a motor vehicle, causing them to place some or all of their focus elsewhere. For that reason, distracted driving accidents are increasing along with the wide adoption of technology devices such as smartphones. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies driving distractions into four categories:
- Manual – If you find yourself applying makeup, smoking, brushing your hair, shaving with an electric razor or even eating, you are engaging in manual distractions. In general, these distractions are marked by the action of taking your hands off the steering wheel for any reason that is unrelated to the operation of your motor vehicle.
- Visual – Visual distractions involve those which avert a motorist’s eyes away from the road. Some examples of visual distractions include texting and driving, adjusting the media player or searching for items inside the car.
- Cognitive – Driving while distracted can cause cognitive distractions, which is when you take your attention away from the driving environment because you are mentally engaged in something else. These distracting activities may include a conversation with another person, regardless of whether the other individual is in the car with you.
- Auditory – This involves listening to something that is not part of the driving environment, and which can sometimes be classified as a distraction.
Because texting with driving involves the three major categories of distractions, which are the manual, visual and cognitive classifications, it is regarded as the most egregious form of driving distracted. Examples of other common distracted activities include:
- Very loud music
- Using a phone and/or texting
- Watching videos on any sort of device
- Using the radio, CD player or MP3 player
- Eating or drinking
- Talking to other passengers in the car
- Grooming, such as shaving or applying makeup
- Using any PDAs or navigation devices
Distracted Driving Laws in Nebraska for Handheld Devices
Nebraska laws against distracted driving do not cover instances in which drivers use handheld devices to talk on the phone. However, there is a law that covers texting and driving, and exceptions are made for certain circumstances. In general, most traffic regulations related to driving distractions in Nebraska are considered secondary laws. This means that, in order for a law enforcement officer to issue you a traffic ticket, you must first be pulled over and cited for a different offense. In 2012, Nebraska tried to make strides to curtail distracted driving by passing laws prohibiting the use of handheld devices in school crossing zones and work zones, but they did not pass.
Nebraska Laws on Distracted Driving for Novice Drivers
The distracted driving laws in Nebraska define novice drivers as those who are younger than 18 years of age and operate motor vehicles using learner’s permits, otherwise known as provisional licenses. Novice drivers who fit this profile are not allowed to cell phones at any time behind the wheel, regardless of whether they use handheld or hands-free devices. On the other hand, this is considered a secondary law in NE, which means that you can only be cited for this distracted driving law if you are pulled over for a different offense, such as speeding or running a traffic light.
Texting and Driving Laws in Nebraska
Nebraska laws that regulate texting while driving are quite strict. Simply put, NE joined many other states to forbid motorists from using any type of interactive wireless device to compose, read or send text messages while operating a motor vehicle. The banned devices include cell phones, PDAs, laptops, or any other device that can connect two or more parties.
Nebraska Distracted Drivers Regulations for CDL Holders
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) forbids all motorists who hold commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) from cell phone use while driving motor vehicles.
Distracted Driving Penalties in Nebraska
Texting and driving fines in Nebraska amount to $200 for a first offense, $300 for a second offense and $500 for a third offense. Moreover, each subsequent offense adds three points to the guilty motorist’s license.
Ways to Prevent Distracting Driving in Nebraska
It is important to educate motorists about the best ways to stop texting and driving. In addition, other risky activities that cause motorists to become distracted while driving a car or truck must be discouraged. Tips that can improve the chances of avoiding a distracted driving accident include the following:
- Fatigued driving greatly increases your chances of having an accident. In such situations, it is much better to pull off the road and rest before continuing your journey.
- Eating or drinking may provide a distraction. As a general rule, taking your hands off the wheel for any reason is inadvisable. Specifically, eating, drinking and spilling food or drink can produce major distractions.
- Driving distraction may arise any time that a driver attempts to multi-task. Doing things like changing a radio station, texting or using a phone while driving can diminish one’s capacity to pay attention when operating a vehicle.
- Cell phone use while driving should be reserved for emergency situations only. If you happen to find yourself in a situation where you must use your phone, make sure that you are safely pulled off to the side of the road or off the road altogether before using it.
- A distracted driving environment emerges when there are multiple people inside any given motor vehicle interacting with each other, particularly if they are interacting with the driver. Young drivers, such as teens, are particularly prone to making mistakes while driving due to their interactions with passengers. Therefore, engaging with people inside a vehicle increases your chances of making mistakes due to distractions.