Nebraska lawmakers hear testimony in texting and driving legislation

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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska is one of four states with no primary texting law, meaning law enforcement here can't pull you over for texting while driving. Monday afternoon, the Legislature's transportation committee heard a bill that would change that.

As it stands now, officers need another reason — like headlights out or swerving — and only then can you be ticketed for texting and driving.

"Distracted driving with cellphones is of epidemic proportions," said Fred Zwonechek, retired from the Office of Highway Safety. "Education alone will never solve this issue."

Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner told the committee the public wants better law enforcement on the issue.

"The biggest irritation for people when they're driving are others motorists texting and driving and being distracted. They always say, 'Why aren't you doing anything about it?' " he said. "It's not as easy as it might seem. This is a step in the right direction."

Only one person spoke in opposition, saying they believe that changing the law would give law enforcement a bigger window to racially profile drivers.

"We support and try to defend and maintain our freedoms, such as our rights under the 4th amendment, The right to be free and travel in state and not be arbitrarily stopped by law enforcement," said Spike Eickholt of the Nebraska Criminal Defense Attorney Association. "As it is now, we would support Nebraska having the right balance."