NSP Troop E warns of phone usage while driving

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SCOTTS BLUFF COUNTY, Neb. - (KNEP) - Nebraska State Patrol Troop E is reminding everyone to put away their cell phones while driving during distracted drivers awareness month.

According to the Nebraska Department of Transportation there were a total of 4,699 accidents in 2017 due to distracted driving with 19 of them resulting in a fatality and over 1,500 involving an injury.

Lieutenant Art Frerichs believes texting while driving is a major culprit with it killing more and more people each year. In 2017, NDOT reported 157 accidents were caused by cell phone distraction. Of those, 36 involved a teen between the ages of 15-19.

The state has seen a steady increase in the number of distracted driving accidents from 2010 to its most recent statistics in 2017.

Lieutenant Frerichs said the state has a law on texting and driving but it’s a secondary law. Meaning, the trooper or officer who pulls you over must have an original offence such as speeding, driving over the center left or any other number of infractions. These offences will put points on your license. For instance, a citation for careless driving is a four point offence and if the officer cites you for texting while driving that’s an additional three points. The State of Nebraska allows for 12 points on your license in a two year period before having it suspended.

He believes the way to curb distracted driving is by getting a hands-free system in the car if you feel you need to use your phone.

Texting while driving is not the only distraction, with Lieutenant Frerichs advising people can become distracted by eating or driving in a construction zone. He added people get distracted by what the workers are doing and will veer or the traffic will get congested due to lane changes and decrease in speed.

Nebraska State Patrol reminds you to buckle up, put down the cell phone and pay attention to the road well as adhering to the move over law for emergency personnel.